University of Texas,
Department of Physics History
Main Building Period 1883–1934

Old Main Building, c, 1903 Housed most of the University programs from 1882 to 1934.




First UT Faculty
When the University of Texas opened in September 1883, the faculty was composed of the eight men pictured here (left to right): John William Mallet, professor of physics and chemistry; Leslie Waggener, professor of English language, history, and literature; Robert L. Dabney, professor of mental and moral philosophy and political science; Robert S. Gould, professor of law; Oran M. Roberts, professor of law; Henri Tallichet, professor of modern languages; Milton Humphreys, professor of ancient languages; and William LeRoy Broun, professor of mathematics. Following the University of Virginia model, the faculty elected one of their colleagues, Professor Mallet, to serve as Chairman of the Faculty; the office of University President was not created until 1895. There were only two departments established, Academic and Law. Photo Courtesy of Dolph Briscoe Center for American History.

1881 In 1881, Austin was chosen as the site of the "Main University," and Galveston was designated the location of the "Medical Department." In addition, the legislature authorized a governing board of eight regents. (Michelson and Morley find no relative velocity through the aether.)

1882 An official ceremony, November 17, marked the beginning of construction on what is now referred to as the Old Main Building on the original "College Hill." (Chester A. Arthur was U. S. President. Franklin D. Roosevelt was born. Charles Darwin died. Last transit of Venus until 2004.)

1883 The University of Texas at Austin opened September 15, 1883 (photo at right) ; the MA was the only authorized graduate degree. In the first year, 1883–1884, the university faculty was composed of eight professors, four assistants, and the proctor. Professor Mallet’s salary was $4000, the other members received $3500. Enrollment for the first long session was 221. It rose to 2,254 at the outbreak of World War I and to 4,001 the first year after that war. In the last year before World War II, enrollment for the long session was 11,146. Three upper division physics classes were offered (32 students enrolled) as follows: "First Class: In this class the work will be the study of experimental mechanics. Second Class: This class will continue the course in physics by the study of heat, magnetism, electricity and meteorology. Third Class: In this class special subjects for advanced study will be selected in accordance with the needs and aims of students."

In 1983, The University of Texas celebrated the centenial year of its founding. One component of that celebration was a Convocation held on Thursday, 15th of September at 10:30 AM in the Frank C Erwin, Jr. Special Events Center. The program from that convocation which contains some early history is available on this site: The Centenial Convocation.


1884 William Sydney Porter ("O. Henry") came to Austin in 1884. it was a time, as one of his biographers, Richard O'Connor, put it, "when the notation 'Gone to Texas' placed besides a man's name made it suspect that he was on the verge of bankruptcy, unwanted marriage, tuberculosis or some other disaster." This is the existing atmosphere in which Texas would be recruiting for its new university.

Old Main Building

Below is a drawing of the south front elevation of the Old Main Building by Frederick E. Ruffini (circa 1883). Because of a lack of funds, all of Old Main was not built at the same time. The West Wing was completed by January 1884, the middle portion, including the auditorium, was finished in 1889, and the East Wing was completed in 1899. Ruffini died before the central portion was built. Bart McDonald became the main architect and subsequently J. L. O'Connor was the architect for the East Wing. Although three different architects were engaged, Ruffini's design and dimensions were not changed. In 1898, Physics expanded into the West Wing when Biology moved.

Architect F. E. Ruffini of Austin designed this building in the Victorian-Gothic style. The structure was built in three stages: the west wing was completed in 1883 for The University’s first class of 221 students; the central section in 1891; and finally the east wing in 1899. Old Main featured wide corridors, high rotundas, a 2,000 seat grand auditorium, a library, a chapel, 9 spacious lecture halls, 30 classrooms, and even a dressing room for the ladies’ cloaks and bonnets. The Girl's Study Hall was furnished with wicker rocking chairs. In 1932, a mere 35 year after the building was completed, the University announced the razing of Old Main in favor of building a new administration-library building, much to the protests of faculty, students, and residents of Austin.

The First Faculty Session 1883–1884
Chairman, Prof. J. W. Mallet (Literary and Scientific Schools)

Professor J. W. Mallet, AM, MD, LLD, PhD, FRS
School of Chemistry and in charge of School of Physics

MALLET, John William, was a chemist, born in Dublin, Ireland, October 10, 1832. He graduated from Trinity College, and studied chemistry at the University of Göttingen, Germany, where he received the degree of PhD for his research on the tellurium ethers in 1852. Soon afterward, he came to the United States and was called to Amherst, where, during 1854–1856, he was assistant professor of analytical and applied chemistry. He was then given the chair of chemistry at the University of Alabama, where he remained until the beginning of the Civil War, and was also associated in the chemical work of the geological survey of Alabama. Professor Mallet took an active part in the war and attained the rank of colonel in the Confederate army. He became professor of chemistry in the medical department of the University of Louisiana in 1865, and later engaged in the iron business near Vicksburg, Mississippi. He accepted, in 1867, the professorship of analytical, industrial, and agricultural chemistry at the University of Virginia, which chair, in 1872, became that of general and industrial chemistry and pharmacy. Professor Mallet continued this relation until 1883, when he became professor of chemistry and physics at the recently organized University of Texas, and the equipment of these departments was selected by him; but he resigned a year later to accept a similar chair in Jefferson Medical College, Philadelphia. In 1885, he returned to the University of Virginia as professor of general and industrial chemistry and pharmacy, which post he still (1888) holds. Professor Mallet's research in pure chemistry included valuable investigations on the atomic weights of aluminum and lithium, and improved methods of analysis. In the direction of mineral chemistry, he has accomplished much, not only by making analyses of new minerals, but also in the "Laboratory Communications" from his students that have been published by him; separations of rare earths have been indicated. His specialty was industrial chemistry or chemistry applied to the arts and manufactures, and, in this branch, he has probably no superior in the United States. His extended knowledge of this subject led to his being called to lecture on the "Utilization of Waste Products" in 1879–1880 at Johns Hopkins University, and, at that time, he published in the American Chemical Journal a review of the Progress of Industrial Chemistry for the decade of 1870–80. At the request of the National Board of Health, he undertook an elaborate investigation as to the chemical methods in use for the determination of organic matter in potable water with a comparative study of the water supply of different localities in the United States. This work has taken high rank in the literature of water analysis and was published by the board in its annual report for 1882. In 1880, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and in 1882, he was president of the American Chemical Society. The honorary degrees of MD and LLD have been conferred on him. His publications have been entirely in the line of his profession, and have been confined to scientific journals. (From

Another Biography:

John W. Mallet (1832–1912) (LLD, PhD, FRS) was professor of chemistry and the first chairman of the faculty at the newly founded University of Texas.

Mallet was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1832, the eldest son of Robert Mallet (1810–1881), a civil engineer and seismologist, who was well known for bridge design and for his work cataloging world earthquakes. The young John grew to love science as a schoolboy, partly from extensive reading in his father's library. He entered Trinity College Dublin in 1849, and in 1851, he traveled to Göttingen, where he studied with Friedrich Wöhler. He earned his PhD there in 1852, with a thesis on the chemical composition of antiquities in the Museum of the Royal Irish Academy. He returned to Trinity to finish his Bachelor of Arts in experimental physics, being awarded a Gold Medal in 1853.

That same year, he traveled to the United States to assist with his father's earthquake research. He would spend the rest of his life in America, though he never took US citizenship. He taught chemistry briefly at Amherst College in 1854. In 1855, he became professor of chemistry at the University of Alabama, where he began a lifelong association with the South. In 1857, he married Mary Elizabeth Ormond, daughter of an Alabama Supreme Court justice. Their first child, John Ormond, was born in 1858, and their second, Robert William, was born as the Civil War was beginning in 1861. A daughter, Mary Constance Helen, followed in 1864.

Mallet enlisted as a private in the Confederate army in the fall of 1861, but was quickly recruited by officers who recognized his value to the South as a scientist. He was eventually appointed Superintendent of the Confederate Ordnance Laboratories, and made major contributions to the development of munitions and explosives for the rest of the war. Based in Macon GA, he supervised research on small arms and artillery ammunition production.

After the war, Mallet taught at Tulane University, then, in 1868, he was appointed professor of chemistry and later chair of chemistry at the University of Virginia. There, he designed the first course on industrial chemistry offered in the U.S. In 1878, President Rutherford B. Hayes named him one of the commissioners to the International Exposition in Paris, but when someone pointed out that he was still a British subject, he was disqualified from the job. In 1882, he was elected president of the American Chemical Society, which he had helped to found just a few years earlier.

He was lured to Texas by the challenge of building a new chemistry department literally from the ground up, and also partly out of concern for the declining health of his son John. It was believed that the warm, dry climate in central Texas would help the younger Mallet's tuberculosis. In November 1882, he was appointed professor, with a temporary additional assignment as chair of physics, with a handsome salary of $4,000 per year, despite the fact that UT as yet had no permanent building and would not begin classes until the following year. Mallet arrived in Austin at the end of August 1883, and was instrumental in setting up and equipping the new department and establishing its library.

Mallet was at heart an optimist, and found many things to admire about Texas and his eager new students, although Austin was a rough and hot place compared to Charlottesville. But the challenges of establishing a new university were not small. There was immediate friction between Mallet and the regents over funding for the infant university, which at that time existed largely on paper. Progress on the new university building was achingly slow (classes during the first academic year were held in the state Capitol building, a mile south of the campus). The death of his son in February 1884 was the final straw. He resigned to return to the University of Virginia after the spring term in 1884. Some were sorry to see him go, and the regents addressed a memorial resolution to him on the occasion of his resignation expressing "the deepest obligation to him for the invaluable services already rendered by him in the successful inauguration and conduct up to this time of the University...."

John Mallet remained at Virginia, with brief interruptions, until his death in 1912 at the age of 80. He is chiefly remembered for his work on the atomic weights of lithium, aluminum, and gold, but he was a respected authority in many areas of general, analytical, and applied chemistry. He was elected fellow of the Chemical Society in 1857, and the Royal Society in 1877.

The library in the newly constructed Chemistry Building (now Welch Hall) was named in his honor in 1931.


by J. W. MALLET*

*The death of Dr. Mallet occurred a short time after this article was written.

I have been asked to set down on paper some reminiscences of the early days of the University of Texas. It is not easy to write with freshness and interest after an interval of nearly thirty years, and it is by no means easy to avoid the blemish of apparent egotism, of seeming to write more of oneself than of the University.

I had the honor to serve the institution for one session only, —its first– that of 1883–84—holding the chair of chemistry, teaching also physics, and acting as chairman of the faculty, the new University being opened under the Jeffersonian plan of government of the faculty as a whole, without the headship of a president.

For myself that brief session of some nine months was crowded with impressions of most various kinds–many of them bright and attractive and full of interest–some of them of deep sadness.

It brought to me the loss by death of my first-born son, preceded by months of anxious watching over his growing illness, with none other of his family to nurse him, and constant anxiety as to his mother’s failing health in a far distant State, to be followed by her death some two years later.

On the other hand, there was much in the new atmosphere of a young, vigorous and rapidly growing state, and in the hopes and plans for the new institutions of learning, to inspire one with enthusiasm and interest.

The first faculty consisted of a fine body of men–good, sound scholars in their several fields of work, gentlemen of good judgment and experience of scholastic affairs, kindly, courteous and helpful to each other and anxious to be the true friends, as well as teachers, of their pupils.

But to all of us save the two professors of law, who were Texans and well acquainted with the local atmosphere, the feeling was a very strong one that, surrounded by conditions new to us, which we but imperfectly understood, and that with the best intentions, we were liable–indeed almost sure–to fall into mistakes and to be ourselves more or less misunderstood.

There was, however, much to encourage us in the attitude of those who had been most active in securing the opening for actual work of the University, which had been for long a project on paper only, and I remember with much gratitude the words of counsel and cheer of such men as Col. Ashbel Smith, Dr. Wooten, Mr. Wooldridge, Judge Terrell and others.

But, among the warmest and truest friends of the University, there was some lingering doubt as to whether the work might not prove to have been somewhat prematurely undertaken, as to whether the State was quite ready for it. And, in spite of the possession of a large endowment in land, the actual money means available for beginning operations was extremely meager.

Among the most vivid impressions that remain to me of those days–is that of the Texas spirit that seemed to say –“Yes, it is not very clear how the thing is to be done, but the State of Texas has said that it shall be done, and it will be done, somehow.”

To those of us accustomed to more slowly worked out plans in older communities, the contrast between what we were aiming at and what means we had at hand to attain those aims was at times rather depressing. The clambering over piles of lath and plaster rubbish in the corridors of the unfinished one building of the University on the day of the formal opening, the extemporaneous devices for carrying on lectures in the (itself temporary) State Capitol until the new building (a single wing) could be occupied, the unpacking of valuable apparatus' in nooks and corners of the unfinished structure, and the necessity for often repacking such apparatus immediately after using it in order to preserve it from destruction by the rough surroundings, the chemical makeshifts until gas and water pipes could be laid, and no little failure of these on being first tested, represented a curious jumble of petty trials and tribulations which made up no small part of that first session.

Naturally, we, (the majority) of the faculty, as the opening day approached, looked with much interest and some curiosity to personal contact for the first time with the pupils whom we were to teach, and the type of young people–more or less unknown by personal experience to us from East of the Mississippi–with whom we should have to deal. The conditions both of teaching and discipline lay before us as terra incognita.

The great majority of the first body of students turned out to be worthy and excellent material. Two impressions in regard to them remain clearly in my mind.

In the first place, comparing them with such students as I had known in the older States, these young Texans were characterized by great lack of formal school training—a condition much modified no doubt since those early days—combined with a certain quite notable maturity of mind derived from early contact with and participation in the activities of adult life. Boys whose spelling and arithmetic were much behind their years talked and thought like grown men of house building out on the prairie, of cattle driving, even of social and political movements.

Secondly, I was struck with the immense value to a people of a State history, and a State pride in that history as influencing even the very young. I remember well an interview (in private) as Chairman of the Faculty with a boy who was rather disposed to scout the force of college law, and his quick change of attitude when I said something of the value of discipline among soldiers and spoke with hearty admiration of Hood’s Texas Brigade as I had known it in the Army of Northern Virginia. Those were days when not only Confederate recollections were comparatively recent but when there were still survivors to be pointed out in the street of the men who had achieved the independence of Texas, it remains a source of gratification to have seen and known a few of them.

The time did not suffice for making extensive acquaintance with the people of Austin, but was long enough to leave behind most pleasant memories of some families to whose friendship I was admitted, and to whom I was indebted for many acts of kindly social consideration.

Social ties began also to spring up among the members of the faculty, brought together from distant parts of the country with different fields of work, although there was a good deal of difficulty in getting houses, and no little confusion in beginning housekeeping under new conditions.

Among distinctly recalled impressions is that characteristic of the “Great West” of distances much greater than those with which one had been familiar. It seemed that when one crossed the Mississippi and got into Texas one had become a denizen of a new and expanded world, in which it was hundreds of miles to anywhere, and in which one was by distance alone cut off to a large extent from the regions to which one had formerly belonged. This feeling was fostered by the delays of many days in procuring books, scientific journals, etc., and in getting small repairs made to scientific apparatus, of which there was frequent need in getting the courses of instruction under way.

A source of very real interest, and in many respects delight, was the view of a new geographic region with its flora and fauna to which one was unaccustomed.

Very striking was the difference in the Texas landscape due to drought or abundant rainfall. The autumn of 1883 was a very long, hot and dry one, the heat continuing practically unbroken from August, when I reached Austin, until almost Christmas. When rains came in the spring, one was able to realize the truth of both parts of a wise saying which I heard from a dealer in real estate during the seemingly endless heat and dust that had preceded–viz, that “Texas can send a man up higher, and let him down lower, than any other region on the face of the earth.” The sight of the limitless blaze of colour of the wild flowers in spring over the prairie was indeed one to be well remembered. It almost equaled in impressiveness a first glimpse of tropical vegetation, such as I had enjoyed some years before in the forests of Cuba.

The strongest impression on the whole that remains to me from those days of 1883–1884 is that of having had a very small share in laying the foundations of a really great work, coupled with a genuine feeling of humility because of my own very imperfect preparation and capacity–facts which I realize more fully today than I did at the time. Yet I am conscious that, with my colleagues of the faculty, I tried honestly to do my duty, and I believe that I saw and had some share in laying soundly a few of the stones underground on which the present edifice rests.

It has been a great pleasure to learn as the years have gone by how firmly the University of Texas has become established, how steadily it has grown and expanded, and how secure a position it now holds in the esteem and the service of the state.—University of Virginia, October 21, 1912.

By Professor H. W. Harper (From University of Texas Record, 1913)
John William Mallet, BA, PhD, MD, LLD, FCS, FRS, lately emeritus professor of chemistry in the University of Virginia; formerly professor of chemistry and chairman of the faculty in the University of Texas.

The death of Professor John William Mallet, at the University of Virginia, November 7, 1912, removes from this life a really great man—the last but one of that notable body of men who were chosen to constitute the original faculty of the University of Texas.

Accompanying this note is an authentic abstract, published in the Virginian-Pilot and the Norfolk Landmark, November 17, 1912, of the activities that marked the career of this eminent scholar, great teacher, brilliant investigator, splendid organizer and administrator; one of the most distinguished of the great chemists of the century, and one of the truest and noblest of men.

After fifty-nine years of service to the people of the South, this noble man, in closing an article on the "Work of the Ordnance Bureau of the War Department of the Confederate States, 1861-1865," says: "What are one's feeling now in recalling these long bygone days of the Civil War—days of such activity and physical and mental strain, of poor and insufficient food, discomfort, fatigue, turmoil and danger, but of youth and hope, and the infectious ardor of spirit caught from a whole people united as brothers in a common cause. As one's mood changes from day to day, that far distant past, with its great events of one's own little insignificant part, seems sometimes a mere unsubstantial dream of that which never could have had real existence, and sometimes the most real, almost the only real part of one's life, the part most thoroughly worth living, and in comparison with which all that went before and all that has come since appears but petty and of small account." Indeed, a noble sentiment from the lofty mind of one who, as one of his intimate colleagues truly said, "never strove for place or power, but, in all positions and under all circumstances, quietly and simply did his duty to the best of his very superior ability, with absolute integrity and no thought of self, but kind consideration of others.”

As a lecturer, he was most systematic, concise and deliberate, sparing no pains to present every thought and illustration with decisive clearness. His lectures made an indelible impression upon the teachable students. "Long is the roll of those who will ever recall with thankfulness the privilege of sitting under his teaching, realizing that they were obtaining some insight into the wonders of nature from a master mind and master worker; many, too, there receiving an inspiration which, in after years, led to vigorous research and confident initiative in the pursuit of their profession.
"Dr. Mallet published, in all, over 110 papers upon unfamiliar chemical compounds, peculiar minerals, chemical and physical phenomena, meteoric stones and irons, volcanic dust and a number relating to the chemistry of medicine."*

At the ripe age of eighty our beloved master fell asleep. A life full of years and full of honors devoted to science and to his fellowmen is closed, and today throughout the South, thousands of our people are saddened and deeply bereaved because of our great loss.

*F. P. Dunnington, American Chemical Journal, Vol. 49, pp. 71-72, January, 1913.

Below is the Uniiversity of Virginia faculty in 1883, this would be just before John W. Mallet joined the University of Texas faculty. James F. Harrison Sr., cnter of the first row, was the father of James F. Harrison Jr. who replaced Mallet at UT the following year.

1884 In May, the resignation of Professor Mallet prompts the regents to reorganize physics and chemistry into separate departments with a professor as head of each. Earlier, Professors Humphreys and Broun had discovered that Mallet had never resign his position at Virginia. They felt betrayed since both had "burned the bridges behind them" and understood that the three had developed a partnership to sink or swim together in what all considered a very risky venture.

1884 The Austin Daily Stateman describes progress at the new University of Texas and the next seesion opening September 17. Among the faculty is J. H. Harrison, the new physics faculty member that is replacing Professor John Mallet who resigned to return to the University of Virginia.

1884–85 Physics Faculty Member:
James F. Harrison, Jr., M. D. (1850–1915)

Associate Professor of Physics, (shown at left). After Professor J. W. Mallet resigned to return to U. of Virginia, regents appointed Harrison over Alexander Macfarlane in a vote of 3 to 1; Professor H. M. Eaton received one vote. They were concerned that Macfarlane coming from Edinburgh, Scotland might not stay. According to Professor Milton Humphreys, "Professor Harrison, who was called to the chair of physics after Dr. Mallet resigned, was a little dull of hearing when he came to Austin, then his hearing grew rapidly worse until, before the close of the session, he decided to give up teaching and go to farming. Against many warnings, he went into the country in May (so I was told) and purchased or leased a little farm and made the necessary preparations for cultivating the soil. He found beautiful, clear, purling streams whose permanence was guaranteed by the pebbles in the bottom. Towards the end of August, I heard that he was driving his stock five miles to water, and for household purposes hauling water three miles."

The following collection of facts makes for a creditable summary of Professor James Harrison Jr.'s ccareer. There was a Professor James F. Harrison Sr. on the faculty of the Medical College of Virginia. It seems reasonable that Mallet would certainly have known him. After deciding to leave UT, Professor Mallet may have suggested his replacement, the son of a former, and soon to be again, colleague. There appears to be no existing record of James F. Harrison Jr. ever attending Virginia Medical College.

Harrison is the son of James F. Harrison Sr., Chairman and Professor of Medicine at the Medical College of the University of Virginia. (Picture of the senior Harrison is shown at right. He was a surgeon for the Confederacy during the Civil War.)

James Jr. was born in Washington, D.C. in 1850. In 1870, James Jr., 19, was living in St. Ann’s Parish, Albemarle, Virginia, with his father, James F. Harrison Sr., 47, mother, Fannie (Amanda), and sisters Bettie, 16, and Fannie 8. He was a student.

James Jr. married Mary Eliza Jourdan on Nov. 29, 1876. A son, James Francis Harrison III, was born September 9, 1877 in Mobile. James III married Cordelia Tyler June 1, 1898 in Mobile.

Below left, is an entry from the Virginia Staunton Spectator, September 17, 1878, which reports the appointments of some of the University of Virginia graduates. Among the entries is, "Dr. James F. Harrison, Jr., elected Professor of Chemistry and Natural Sciences, Wesleyan Female College, Macon Georgia." Below right, is an entry from 1887, announcing Harrison's appointment at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia. It mentions his previous appointment at the University of Texas as an Associate Professor of Physics.



























In 1900, James Jr., 49 (b. District of Columbia) was a druggist in Mobile, AL. He lived with his wife Mary (b. Louisiana?), 47, son, Massillon, (b. Georgia) 19, daughters Susie (b Georgia), 17 and Fannie, 14 (b. Alabama, named for James' sister.) Massillon was clerk in coal company. In 1925, Massillon was in Sioux City, Iowa with his wife Elizabeth and a son James F. Harrison.

In 1910, a James, age 58 born Virginia, was living in Mobile, AL. He was a doctor in a marine hospital. His mother-in-law, Louisa Ripley, age 84, lived with him along with a number of boarders. His wife was not in household.

In 1910, a James F. Harrison returned to Mobile from Progreso, Mexico. He listed his profession as a teacher.

James died August 17, 1915, in Mobile, AL at the age of 65. His wife Mary died March 18, 1935, in Mobile at the age of 82. His death is listed in Directory of Deceased American Physicians. He practiced allopathic medicine. Graduate of U. Virginia School of Medicine, 1873. Died of general breakdown. James Francis Harrison. He is buried in Magnolia Cemetery, Mobile, AL, Plot: Square 15-Lot 72


1885–95 Physics Faculty Member:
Alexander Macfarlane, MA, DSc, University of Edinburgh, FRSE. —June 15, 1885, regents approve an appointment of associate professor for Alexander Macfarlane. He received 5 votes vs 1 for Chancellor Garland of Vanderbilt. Macfarlane was personally acquainted with James Clerk Maxwell. He had been in correspondence with U. of Texas mathematics professor George Halsted aout their algegra research. The next year at the January 29th meeting, Macfarlane proposed that the department enlarge by adding a room dedicated to laboratory and lab equipment. The regents approved $5000. In 1890, Macfarlane presented his record to the Board of Regents. He was competing with outside faculty for reappointment, he received a majority of the votes and was asked to make a proposal for improving the department. Over the next years, he pushed hard for additional staff and equipment to compete with schools such as Michigan and Cornell. He provided detailed comparative data with letters from faculty at the two school. He suggested that the department was not fulfilling its “first class” mission. In June 1894, in executive session, the Board requested that he tender his resignation from the University and that the position of chair be replaced with an associate professor, to be determined. The chair of biology was removed at the same time. The regents, as part of the same action, instructed both departments to do a major inventory report, casting a shadow on the two men. A group of alumni submitted a report of protest to the regents which was not accepted. (A December report found $900 to $1500 worth of materials, including some platinum, missing from the Chemical Laboratory. It was suggested a previous employee was responsible. No evidence of impropriety by either chair was presented.)

A 1951 report prepared by the Dean of Arts and Sciences, C. P Boner (physics), to determine if an instructorship should be named after Professor Halsted reported the following: "Both Professor Battle and Professor Porter are in agreement that Professor Halsted fully deserved the dismissal he got. According to Dr. Battle, Halsted was associated with Edward (biology), Everhardt (chemistry), and McFarlane (physics) in an effort to discredit the services of Messrs. Waggener, Wooldrige, and Wooten of the board of regents. Several of these men were discharged for their campaign, but Professor Halsted was continued on the faculty with his salary reduced by $500 for each of three years." Halsted was later dismissed from UT apparently for his "stuffing the ballot box" in connection with his candidacy for president of the Texas Academy of Science. Professor John W. Mallett, first chairman of the UT Faculty, once remarked,"Texas can send a man up higher, and let him down lower, than any other region on the face of the earth." Those dismissed were probably the source of Mallett's remark.

The regents appointed Dr. A. L. McRae of the Rolla School of Mines as associate professor and chair at a salary of $3000 for a term of one year. Like Macfarlane, he pushed for an electrical power generating plant for the campus or dedicated lines from the new Austin Power and Dam facility about to come on line. He requested $1500 for associated electrical equipment.

Petition by Professor of Law Clarence H. Miller and other alumni to have Professor MacFarlane reappointed was denied by the regents.

The biography of Macfarlane included below is from the Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario.

ALEXANDER MACFARLANE, one of the most distinguished citizens of Ontario, a leader in scientific thought and author of the highest merit, and a savant in whom both his native land and his adopted country take pride, was born at Blairgowrie, Scotland, April 21, 1851. His education was obtained in the public school and his selection as a pupil-teacher as early as the age of thirteen years gives testimony to the quick ripening of his powers. His ambition was to reach the University of Edinburgh, and in 1869, he entered that great educational institution. Mr. Macfarlane first entered the junior classes in Latin and Greek, and at the end of the session, stood fourth in the former and fifth in the latter, in classes of 200, largely composed of high school graduates. At the beginning of his second year, he won the Miller scholarship, worth $400, in open competition, and at the beginning of the third year he won, in open competition, the Spence scholarship, worth $1,000. His third year of study was given to senior mathematics, natural philosophy and logic. It was the custom of Prof. Kelland to introduce quaternions to his Senior students. The addition of vectors was intelligible, but the product of vectors seemed to be a universal difficulty, and to assist in his understanding young Macfarlane purchased a copy of Tait’s Treatise on Quaternions. This was the beginning of his special work as a mathematician. Prior to entering the class of logic, Mr. Macfarlane had already become familiar with the works of Hamilton and Mill, and, while a member of the class, he read, at the invitation of the professor, a paper which criticized the statement of the law of excluded middle, given by Jevons in his Lessons on Logic, a paper which displayed unusual merit for so young a mind. It was his first intention to study for honors in logic and philosophy, but perceiving how much they depended upon the principles of science, he took up the advanced classes in mathematics and physics, and in mathematical physics he not only gained the highest honors but also the appreciation and the personal friendship of Prof. Tait, the head of the Physical Department of the University. In 1874, he was appointed Neil Arnott instructor in physics, and in 1875, finished an unusually extensive course of undergraduate study by taking the degree of MA with honors in mathematics and physics.

Having, after graduation, won in competitive examination the MacLaren fellowship, worth $1,500, he proceeded to study for the recently-instituted degree of doctor of science, and, after one year spent on chemistry, botany and natural history, and two years on mathematics and physics, he obtained the doctorate in 1878. His remarkable thesis was an experimental research on the conditions governing the electric spark, and it was subsequently published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It also brought him under the notice of the celebrated electrician and philosopher, Clerk Maxwell. In 1878, Dr. Macfarlane was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the first contribution, which he read personally, was a memoir on the algebra of logic. In 1879, he enlarged its scope and published it under the title of Principles of the Algebra of Logic. This volume was received with favor and brought the author into correspondence with many of the leading scientists and savants of the world. In 1879, he was able to meet many of them at the meeting of the British Association at Sheffield. During 1880, Dr. MacFarlane was interim professor of physics at the University of St. Andrews, and in 1881, he was appointed, for the usual period of three years, Examiner in Mathematics in the University of Edinburgh. During these years, he contributed to the Royal Society a series of valuable papers on Analysis of the Relationships of Consanguinity and Affinity. A paper on this subject, read before the Anthropological Institute of London, contains as perfect a notation for relationship as is the Arabic notation for numbers. His notable paper on Plane Algebra and his Physical Arithmetic were prepared during his tenure of office as Examiner.

In 1885, Dr. Macfarlane was called to the Chair of Physics at the University of Texas, where he became a colleague of his fellow logician, Dr. Halsted, and during that same year, he met many American men of letters and science at the Ann Arbor meeting of the association. In 1887, he received the honorary degree of LL.D. from the University of Michigan. His first year at the University of Texas was wholly taken up with the organization of the department, but in 1889 appeared a sequel to Physical Arithmetic, namely, a volume of Elementary Mathematical Tables. During this year, he visited Paris, and at the meeting of the French Association became acquainted with many Continental savants. On his return from Europe, he began to publish the results of his study of the algebra of space, and a few of the notable papers read and prepared were the following, showing a mass of learning and an exactness of reasoning quite beyond the ordinary intelligence: Principles of the Algebra of Physics; On the Imaginary of Algebra; The Fundamental Theorems of Analysis Generalized for Space; On the Definitions of the Trigonometric Functions; The Principles of Elliptic and Hyperbolic Analysis; The Analytical Treatment of Alternating Currents; On the Fundamental Principles of Exact Analysis; and The Principles of Differentiation in Space Analysis. In 1891, Dr. Macfarlane took an active part in organizing the Texas Academy of Science, and for two years acted as its Honorary Secretary. He contributed many papers, among which may be mentioned: An Account of the Rainmaking Experiments in San Antonio and Exact Analysis as the Basis of Language. For nine years Prof. Macfarlane remained at the University of Texas, resigning in 1894. The benefits accruing to the institution through his connection with it placed it far ahead of competitors. The course in mathematical physics which he arranged called forth a special approving article from a mathematical journal published at Turin, Italy. Since 1885, he had been a member of the Canadian Institute, Toronto, and, in addition to belonging to a number of American and British societies, he also held membership with several of the leading ones of the European continent. He is prominently mentioned in the issue of Who’s Who in America.

Since coming to reside in Ontario, Prof. Macfarlane has continued to write many papers on the algebra of space and has carried on the work of secretary of an international society organized for promoting that branch of mathematics, and which includes in its membership many of the most active mathematicians of the several countries of the world.

Dr. Macfarlane is a grandson of Alexander and Jeanette (Steele) Macfarlane, honored old residents of Perthshire, Scotland. Their sons were: James, Peter, Alexander and Daniel, the last of whom was the Doctor’s father. The only member of this family who came to Canada was the late James MacFarlane.

Dr. Macfarlane married Miss Helen Swearingen*, daughter of Patrick and Mary E. (Toland) Swearingen, of Texas. The former, descended from one of the Dutch founders of New York, was an attorney of prominence and held the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil war in the States. To Dr. and Mrs. Macfarlane have been born three sons, Alexander S., Robert H. K., and Henry S. In politics, Dr. Macfarlane favors the Liberal party; in religion he is a Presbyterian. He occupies his beautiful farm of 400 acres, on Lots 16 and 17, 6th Concession, during the summer season, his residence occupying its center. It is probably the most valuable, as it certainly is the most highly cultivated and improved, estate of the county, and everything is arranged in geometrical order. (From: Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Kent, Ontario)

*(In 1886, UT mathematrics professor, George Bruce Halsted, wed Margaret Swearingen in Austin. She was the daughter of Patrick Swearingen of Brenham, TX and from one of the founding families of New Amsterdam later renamed New York City). Patrick Swearingen had another daughter, Helen Martha, who became Alexander Macfarlane's wife in 1895. Thus the university colleagues were, in fact, brothers-in-law. The wedding was announced in the American Mathematical Monthly (2:135). (Alexander and Helen had three sons: Alexander S., Robert H.K., and Henry S.—Mel Oakes)

Another biography:

Alexander Macfarlane FRSE (April 21, 1851–August 28, 1913) was a Scottish logician, physicist, and mathematician.

Macfarlane was born in Blairgowrie, Scotland and studied at the University of Edinburgh. His doctoral thesis, On the Conditions Governing the Electric Spark, was subsequently published in the Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. It brought him to the notice of James Clerk Maxwell, and, in 1878, Macfarlane was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

During his life, Macfarlane played a prominent role in research and education. He taught at the universities of Edinburgh and St. Andrew’s, was physics professor at the University of Texas (1885–1894), professor of advanced electricity, and later of mathematical physics at Lehigh University. Macfarlane was the secretary of the Quaternion Society and compiler of its publications.

Macfarlane was also the author of a popular 1916 collection of mathematical biographies (Ten British Mathematicians), a similar work on physicists (Lectures on Ten British Physicists of the Nineteenth Century, 1919), and a bibliography on quaternions in 1904. Significantly, by exploiting the concept of hyperbolic versor originating with James Cockle, he invented hyperbolic quaternions, which anticipated Minkowski space. (He was imbued with hyperbolic geometry through his brother-in-law G. B. Halstead while they taught in Austin.)

Macfarlane actively participated in several International Congresses of Mathematicians including the primordial meeting in Chicago, 1893, and the Paris meeting of 1900 where he spoke on Application of Space Analysis to Curvilinear Coordinates.

Macfarlane retired to Chatham, Ontario, where he died in 1913. (From

More about Macfarlane...

Between 1901 and 1904, Macfarlane gave a series of lectures at LeHigh University to faculty, students and townspeople. Ten of these lectures on pure mathematicians are available for free on iTunes and are part of the University of South Florida "Lit2Go" project. Ten lectures on more physics related mathematicians are planned.



1885 Regents authorized Doctor of Philosophy degree and Doctor of Science degree, but they were later discontinued.

1890 School of Physics Report

1892 Lulu Mary Bailey enrolled. The name of the Academic Department was changed to the Department of Literature, Science, and Arts; and in the catalogue for 1906–07 it became the College of Arts. In 1891, the Medical Department was added to Academic and Law. The Department of Engineering was given a separate organization in 1895 and that of Education in 1906.

1893 George Washington Pierce, from Webberville, graduated with a BS from UT. In 1894, he earned an MS. Pierce was one of the founding fathers of communication engineering. He was an American inventor, a pioneer in radiotelephony, a noted teacher of communication engineering, and the founder of the Harvard Wireless Club. He developed the Pierce oscillator, which utilizes quartz crystal to keep radio transmissions precisely on the assigned frequency and to provide similar accuracy for frequency meters. More...

1894 Dr. Austin Lee McRae, (1920 picture at right), was appointed associate professor of physics. He is a weather physicist from University of Missouri at Rolla. In 1886, McRae earned a SD in physics from Harvard University. His thesis title was, The Effect of Magnetism in Producing Changes in the Dimensions of All Substances. He resigned to return to Rolla in 1896. More...


1894 The Kosmos founded November 24, for discussion of scientific subjects fortnightly in the Chemistry Lecture Room. Founders included Associate Professor Austin Lee McRae (BS University of Georgia, ScD Harvard) and graduate student G. W. Pierce.


1894 G. W. Pierce earned first master's in physics.

1894 On January 21, the Board of Regents report that, in executive session, they agreed to request the resignation of Associate Professor Alexander Macfarlane. No reason is reported. They also request the resignation of a biology professor. Macfarlane will tender his resignation and go to LeHigh University.

1895 Regents appointed F. Reichman as Student Assistant In Physics at a salary of $300. The salary of Mechanical Assistant in Physics was reduced from $360 to $290.

1896–97 Faculty member, Edwin Fitch Northrup, (1866–1940), PhD, Associate Professor of Physics, (AB Amherst College, 1891, PhD Johns Hopkins University 1895) was appointed to physics faculty.

Edwin was oldest son of Ansel J. and Eliza S. (Fitch) Northrup. His father was a lawyer. Edwin was born in Syracuse, N. Y., February 23, 1866. He attended the Prepared State Normal School (Cortland State) in Cortland, N. Y. and Cornell University in Ithaca, N. Y. He earned his PhD at Johns Hopkins, 1895. He was Associate Professor of Physics at the U. of Texas, 1896–97. From 1898–1902 he served as assistant to Prof. H. A. Rowland in Baltimore, Md., in the development of Rowland’s multiplex printing telegraph system, becoming chief constructing engineer of Rowland Printing Telegraph Co. In 1900, he married Margaret J. Stewart of Pittsburgh, PA.

He was one of the founders of Leeds & Northrup Co., Philadelphia, PA, 1903–10. While Northrup was at Texas, L. H. Gruber, the department mechanician, built a galvanometer for Northrup, which was an important product of the Leeds & Northrup Co. According to Professor Lockenvitz, he returned to Texas a number of years later to retrieve the instrument for use in a patent suit.

In 1910, he was appointed professor of physics at Princeton University. His major field of interest was applied high-frequency electro-magnetics. In Princeton’s Palmer Laboratory, he developed the high-frequency induction furnace so well known in industry today. He left Princeton in 1920 to found Ajax Electrothermic Furnace Corp in Trenton, N. J. He served as vice-president and technical adviser. His honors include Fellow, American Institute Electrical Engineers; Amer. Assoc. for Advancement of Science; American Physical Society; Amer. Electro-Chem. Society; Inventors' Guild; Franklin Institute; Washington Acad. Sciences, etc. He wrote Methods of Measuring Electrical Resistance, 1912; Laws of Physical Science, 1917; many scientific articles.

Dr. Northrup incorporated his best-known public exposition of his concept of applying electromagnetic propulsion to space transportation into a half-science fiction, half-true biographical book Zero to Eighty (Princeton Press, 1937) to which he appended the name “Akkad Pseudoman.” Briefly, the book recounts a trip to the moon by means of a rocket in which chemical propulsion and electromagnetic propulsion are conjoined. In a “Technical Supplement“ are given diagrams, basic experimental data, and various engineering details. This book is now one of the great rarities of science fiction book collecting. (Information based on an article A Forgotten Pioneer by R. G. Woodbridge, III in Proceedings of IEEE, Vol. 67, Issue 7, July 1979, p. 1085.

Northrup is buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, NY.

(Photo from AIP Emilio Segre Viusal Archives, Gift of Frank T. Chesnut)

University of Texas Faculty photos, ca 1897. Edwin Fitch Northrup is at center of bottom row.. (Photo courtesy of Dolph Brisco Center for American History.)


1896 A list of topics discussed by the Kosmos Club: Socialism, Digestion of Sugars, Tuberculosis, Steel, Planetary Evolution, Causation, Square root of -1, Social Evolution, Influence of Mathematics on the Progress of Physics, Properties of Selenium, Weismannism, Corruption in Politics, The Flight of Birds and Man, Nerves-Nerve Cells, Artesian Wells, Antitoxin, What is Electricity?, Acetylene, The Roentgen Rays, Argon and Helium, A New Proof of a General Two-Term Prismoidal Formula, Mines of Mexico.

1897 At June meeting, the regents approved appointment of faculty member, Edwin Fitch Northrup, from “Associate Professor of Physics to Associate Professor of Physics [sic].” At the December regents meeting, Professor Northrup formally resigned, effective immediately. He moved to Princeton. A tutor, Fritz Reichmann, was placed in charge until William Mather arrived. Reichmann had served as chair since October when Northrup first announced his resignation. Reichmann also had degrees in civil and electrical engineering. He earned a PhD at the University of Chicago in 1901, The Capacity of Condensers at Small Distances. He became State Superintendent of Weights and Measures for State of New York.

1897 The Board of Regents approved the appointment of William Tyler Mather of Baltimore, MD, as Associate Professor of Physics at “a salary of $2500 per annum from the day he reports for duty.”

1898 J. M. Kuehne and Lulu Mary Bailey appointed as student assistants in physics, $250. Kuehne lived in University Hall, a dorm built with funds from Colonel Brackenridge, who was a regent. He gave the funds, $17,000, anonymously, however, soon word was out and everyone called the dorm B Hall. Rent was $2.50 a month and board was less than $10 a month, thus, his $250 salary would cover his expenses. Bailey was living in Grace Hall, an Episcopal dorm built by the Most Reverend George H. Kinsolving, Episcopal Bishop of Texas. Professor Mather arrived. William Tyler Mather, (PhD 1897, Johns Hopkins University), succeeded Prof. Northrup (who resigned in November 1897) in the chair of physics. Dr. Mather was for one year a university scholar at Johns Hopkins. During the last year of his connection with that institution, he held a fellowship in physics. He was then elected instructor in physics in the same institution, but resigned this place to assume his duties as professor of physics in the University of Texas, which place was tendered him by the regents in December, 1897. Prof. Mather was enthusiastic in his praises of Texas and the opportunity for research work in his department of this University. He found his school much better equipped than he expected, and promised soon to have the best appointed workshop in the South.

1899 The old Victorian Gothic Main Building served as the central point of the campus's 40-acre site, and was used for nearly all purposes. Built in three stages by architect F. E. Ruffini, the first was completed in 1883 for the University's first class; subsequent construction saw the creation of the central section in 1891 and the East Wing in 1899.

Lulu Bailey selected as one of the editors of the newly created The University Calendar.

1899 Following receipt of their BS degrees in June, the regents appointed J.M. Kuehne, fellow in physics, $500/annum, and Lulu M. Bailey, assistant in physics, $350/annum, both to begin Sept. 15, 1899. The 1899 budget showed W. T. Mather, associate professor of physics, earning $2500 and Equipment & Maintenance $1067.89. It was also ordered that L. H. Gruber be retained to work during the entire year beginning June 15, 1899, at $70 per month.C. P. Norby was student assistant in physics at $100. The president was listed at $3333/annum.

Regent George W. Brackenridge and Professor W. T. Mather made a trip to Philadelphia to acquire equipment from the 1876 Centennial Exhibition. Much equipment had been taken by the Smithsonian. The equipment, mechanical and electrical, was used in demonstrations up to the 1930s. (This was reported by Professor Lockenvitz—Mel Oakes). In 1878, Regent Brackenridge installed, what is reported as, the first telephone in Texas for Colonel A. H. Belo, publisher of the Galveston News and later founder of the Dallas Morning News. Belo had seen the exhibit by Alexander Graham Bell of his new invention, the telephone, at the Exposition in 1876.

William T. Mather offered 400 lantern slides to the University that belonged to his father Professor R. H. Mather of Amherst. They were a comprehensive collection of illustrations of Greek antiquities and art.

1900 Kuehne’s salary was raised to $600 and Bailey’s was raised to $500.

UT Candidates for MA and MS from 1900 Cactus.

Back Row: E. Taylor Moore Jr., Felix Ezell Smith (Austin, Botany), William Henry Long, Jr. (1867–1947) (UT PhD 1917, Botany, Professor of Botany and Zoology in North Texas Normal, Denton, later Office of Forest Pathology in the Bureau of Plant Industry, U.S. Gov), F. T. West, Wilbur P. Allen (Rockdale, Oratory), E. W. Winkler (The Grove, Tutor inHhistory, State Librarian, Austin) MA

Second Row: Eugene C. Barker (Palestine, Instructor in History, Barker Library Fame), MA, John Avery Lomax (Library of Congress Folklore Collector, Registrar), MA, Mary Lulu Bailey (Instructor in Physics) (1870–1921), M.S., Hattie V. Witten (Tutor in Geology, later Industrial College for Women, Denton), Augusta Rucker, (Biology), Instructor John M. Kuehne (Adjunct Professor in Physics, MS)

Front Row: Gertrude A. Knight (Austin), Mary Heard,(Cleburne, English, M.A.), Florence Magnenat (Austin, Fellow in Pedagogy & Psychology) Other candidates, not in picture: Z. Lenore Baldwin, Florence Edna Rowe (Wrote The Disturbances at Anahuac in 1832, Teacher in Dallas), Charles Phillip Norby, Student Assistant in Physics (Chemistry, withdrew in 1902 to attend Northwestern Medical School, became pathologist in Chicago.) (Dolph Briscoe Center for American History)

1901 William Berger, of Austin, earned a BA in Physics, German and Mathematics.

William Henry Adamson of Mexia, earned a BS in physics. He became a professor of physics at Sam Houston State Teachers College. More...

George Washington Pearce, BS, 1993, MS, 1994, had spent the past year traveling and studying in Europe. He held the John Tyndall Fellowship in Physics in Harvard University (1901)

1901 Masters of Science degrees awarded at UT to Lulu M. Bailey, Thesis: Interferometer Methods. and to John Matthias Kuehne, Thesis: The Magnetic Elements of Austin and Vicinity.

John M. Kuehne, BS, 1899, was making magnetic observations for the United States government during the summer months. He had been assigned to work in Kansas. Mr. Kuehne taught physics in the University again the next year as tutor, salary $700. He completed his PhD at the University of Chicago in 1910 and continued at UT serving as Chair. More...

Miss Lulu Bailey, BS, 1899, MS, 1901, Phi Beta Kappa, was studying physics at the University of Chicago during the summer of 1901. She had been re-elected to her position of tutor in physics at the University of Texas at a salary of $600. She lived at 301 West 1st Street. In the 1880 census, she was in Denison, Texas with parents and siblings, John W. (12), Minnie (8), Dora (5), Bonnie (3). Her name was listed as Mary L. Her father was listed as a druggist and born in Georgia; his father and mother, born in South Carolina. In the 1900 census, she was listed as living in Denison, TX with parents, Joseph S. and Julia Bailey, and listed as born Nov. 1869; she was a school teacher. In the 1910 census, her residence was listed as San Angelo, TX. She was a teacher at State University (University of Texas), living with her mother, and she was listed as born about 1875. In the 1920 census, she was living on West 17th Street in Austin. She was listed as a teacher, born in Texas, and was single and a roomer. Lulu died Feb. 13, 1921. More about Miss Bailey.

R. L. Moore was appointed Fellow in Pure Mathematics, $250. At end of year, Kuehne salary was raised to $900.

1902 New Evans Fellowship ($100) was established for physics graduate choosing to seek a graduate degree at UT. Mr. Conrad L. B. Shuddemagan was first recipient. From the January 2010 Alcalde, “As the ranks of UT alumni continued to swell, the activities of the Alumni Association became more numerous and diverse. The first scholarship, $100, was awarded in 1899—made possible through $1 contributions, some of them solicited in person by fellow alumni. Two years later, the Association created the Lester Bugbee Scholarship Fund. Named after its most active supporter, the fund grew with donations and membership dues. The investment was a good one, as its first beneficiary, Conrad Shuddemagen, graduated in 1902 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.”

Kuehne’s salary was raised to $1000 and Lulu Bailey’s to $900.

1903 Photo below of Old Main Building likely taken by Physics Professor John Kuehne. (Photo from, an excellent site, written by Jim Nicar, a 1989 UT Astronomy Graduate.) There were two Conrads in the 1903 Cactus yearbook. Conrad Blucher, an engineering student and Conrad Schuddemagen, a physics student. Both would have known Professor Kuehne. The writing here does not match that of Schuddemagen.

Old Main: Victorian-Gothic in style, made from yellow buff brick, limestone trim, and with a slate-tiled roof, the old Main Building was the first structure on the campus. Dated from the early 1900s, this is one of the earliest color images of campus, likely taken by UT physics professor (and avid photographer) John Kuehne. Kuehne's taught a photography course for many years in the physics department.

1903 School of Physics, UT Cactus yearbook. Person in photo below is likely Mary Lulu Bailey as she was doing spectroscopy.


1904 UT Science Faculty photo:

Bottom row, L to R: Lulu Mary Bailey (Physics), Conrad Louis Benoni Shuddemagen (Physics) Second Row, middle: William Tyler Mather, Chair, (Physics) Fourth Row, far right: titled, John Matthias Kuehne, (Physics) Top Tow, far left, C. T. Dowell, Chemistry


1904 Mr. Conrad Louis Benoni Shuddemagen (from Sabinal, TX) presented an M. A. Thesis, Some Observations on the Copper and Silver Voltmeter. He attended Harvard the next year on a Thayer Scholarship ($350) and a Fellowship. He completed his PhD in 1908, dissertation entitled, I. The Demagnetizing Factors for Cylindrical Iron Rods. II. A Study of Residual Charge in Dielectrics. A Harvard listing of early Ph.D. dissertations seem to imply that Conrad may have changed his name:
SHUDEMAN, CONRAD LOUIS BENONI. I. The Demagnetizing Factors for Cylindrical Iron Rods. II. A Study of Residual Charge in Dielectrics." More about Conrad Shuddemagen.


1904 Mr. William Berger (from Austin) presented an MA Thesis, Standards of electromotive force : based on Die Normalelemente von Dr. W. Jaeger by William Berger. The thesis was supervised by Professors W. T. Mather, H. Y. Benedict, and M. B. Porter.

1905 Mather’s salary remained at $2500, Kuehne’s was raised to $1200 and Lulu Bailey's to $1000. Ernest Winfred Breihan (1883–1976) from El Paso earned a BS and was appointed Fellow in Physics, with a salary of $2000. Because of nearly doubling in enrollment, the physics department was permitted to appoint J. G. Webb as student assistant. In a quote from the UT Record, “Webb was formerly postmaster of the Co-operative Society but resigned the onerous position to become a student assistant in physics.”

1906 Kuehne was granted a leave of absence “without detriment to standing on his return to work” and was replaced by Instructor P. H. Wynne. Kuehne had received a fellowship from the University of Chicago for five quarters. Philip Henry Wynne was born in Elisabeth, NJ, January 17, 1868. His early training was secured in the public schools of Shelburne Falls, MA, and the Arms Academy of the same place, from which he was graduated in 1882. The next two years he devoted to a general study of art and allied subjects in Boston. In 1884, he entered the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he remained for two years. The following year he spent in Chicago as an iron-works chemist for the Union Steel Company. He was next connected with the Thompson·Houston Electric Company (later the General Electric Company) of Boston. Next, he served as an electrical engineer of the wire department for the city of Boston, and, still later, for several years, he was electrical engineer for the Boston Elevated Railway; after which he became designing engineer of the L. E. Knott Apparatus Company of Boston. Mr. Wynne was also associated as consulting engineer with several important engineering enterprises, and for brief periods was engaged in newspaper work. In 1899, he was married to Miss Agnes Whiting, of Springfield, MA.

1907 Ernest Winfred Breihan (1883–1976) earned an MS with his thesis, The Induction Coil- Comparison of Experimental Results and Theory. Breihan became a physician. He served in WWI in the medical corps and rose to rank of captain. Many of his descendant graduated from the University of Texas. He was buried in the Bartlett City Cemetery. W. T. Mather was promoted to professor of physics.




1908 Lulu M. Bailey was approved for a leave of absence of two years at Johns Hopkins. (See excerpt from Johns Hopkins University Preliminary Registrar.) Lulu was 39 and wrote on her application, “It is my purpose to [take] some graduate work in Physics.” There was no indication of any intention to earn a degree. Conrad Louis B. Shuddemagen, a UT graduate and Harvard PhD, appointed as her replacement at $1000. Kuehne’s salary was raised to $1400.


Arnold Romberg and W. S. Ownsby (at right) were appointed Fellows ($200/annum).









A. G. Koenig (at left) in 1909, was appointed student assistant in physics. He was from Fredricksburg, Texas. In 1915, he became Superintendent of Schools for Mexia, Texas.






1909 In a recommendation to the Regents: “Conrad Louis B. Shuddemagen, instructor in physics, to whom Harvard awarded the Bowden Prize, is offered an associate professorship in physics, in charge of the school, by A&M College, and is promised advancement a year from now. Dr. Schudemagen is one of the ablest of our graduates, promises to be an exceptionally valuable teacher and investigator.” His salary was increased to $1500.

1910 Instructor Lulu Bailey’s salary raised to $1400. Kuehne and Shuddemagen published papers: Kuehne, J. M., On the Electrostatic Effect of a Changing Magnetic Field, Philosophical Magazine, XXVI, 469 f. (April), 1910. Shuddemagen, C. L. B., Tables of Demagnetizing Factors for Iron Rods. Physical Review, XV. 165–170 (August), 1910.

1910 At the recommendation of the faculty, the regents created a Graduate Department, later called School. They reintroduce the Doctor of Philosophy. Physics was among those subjects approved. Between 1883 and 1923, only six PhD’s were granted in the university, none in physics.

1911- In physics, Instructor Lulu Bailey returned from her leave of absence of two years at John Hopkins, making two instructors that year instead of one. There was, in consequence, but one fellow, Arnold Romberg, instead of two the previous year, and two student assistants, C. G. Smith and R. R. Nelson, instead of three. Lulu was elected a member of the faculty without a vote.

1911 ”A few weeks ago, Dr. C. L. B. Schuddemagen, instructor in physics, resigned his position. Although it was quite late in the season, Professor Mather, Chairman of the School of Physics instituted at once, at the President’s request, an active search for a suitable successor, and it is believed he has been found in the person of Dr. S. Leroy Brown, who has been for the past year instructor in physics at Lehigh University, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Mr. Brown received his PhD degree from the University of California and later, before going to Lehigh University, was instructor in physics at Purdue University. The professors at these different institutions recommend Dr. Brown very highly. Salary $1500.” From the regents' minutes. More on Dr. Brown

1912 A master’s degree was earned by Thomas Abraham Sillard. His thesis was entitled, Experimental Study of the Capacity of a Mica Condenser. (I can not verify this entry now, don't know where I found it, I suspect the last name may be incorret, greatly appreciate any information—Mel Oakes)

The title Adjunct Professor was equivalent to Assistant Professor and was formally changed to this title in 1935.

1912 S. Leroy Brown joined the department, coming from Lehigh. He received degrees from the University of Indiana, the BA degree in 1905 and the MA degree in 1907. His doctorate was from the University of California in 1909, with a major in physics and a minor in electrical engineering and mathematics. He had taught at Purdue U. also. At right, are pictured Brown and Arthur Holly Compton at the University of Chicago. (Kuehne picture from Briscoe Center for American History)

1914- Professor: W. T. Mather ($3250), Adjunct Professors: J. M. Kuehne ($2100), S. L. Brown ($2000), Instructor: Lulu M. Bailey ($1500), Tutors: Ewald W. Schuhmann ($700), Student Assistants in Physics: M. Y. Colby ($200), N. S. Herod ($200), T. B. McCarter ($200), Rufus Rondeau Rush ($200), William Frederick Ayres ($120), Lizzie Gertrude Blasdell ($120), Leonard Francis Gilliland ($120), John Cline Higdon ($120), Louis Lionel Miller ($120), Svante Mauritz Udden ($120), Newton S. Herod ($120). Lulu M. Bailey lived at 307 W. 15th St., (Office R. 1, 10–11 daily). S. L. Brown lived at 2707 Guadalupe, M. Y. Colby at 2303 Speedway, J. M. Kuehne at 712 W. 23rd St., and W. T. Mather at 2305 San Antonio St.

Louis Otto Shuddemagen earned an MA, Thermal Electromotive Forces of Metals and Metallic Oxides.

The Southwest Conference was founded in Houston on December 8, 1914. This formation meeting was the result of some months of work by Leo Theodore Bellmont and Dr. William Tyler Mather, professor of physics, of the University of Texas with whom the idea of a conference of the major schools of the Southwest originated. The meeting of December eighth was a direct result of their work upon organization and of a preliminary meeting held on September 6, 1914 in Dallas. The period between the first meeting and the second one was allotted to the various representatives to report back to their schools and receive their approval. As in all plans for advancement, this one was the subject of much discussion pro and con. However, by December 8, the following schools had arrived at a satisfactory conclusion and met at Houston to take definite steps. As a result, the Southwest Conference was composed of the following schools: Rice Institute, Texas A&M, Arkansas University, Southwestern University, Oklahoma A &M, and the University of Texas.

1915 Thomas Beatie McCarter was appointed tutor ($600) and additional student assistants were appointed: F. E. Poindexter, L. E. McCarty, James A. Barnes, and J. L.Thomas. A. A. Gruber was lab assistant ($900).

Ewald W. Schuhmann earned an MA, Test of an Alternating Current-Direct Current -Alternating Current Motor-Generator Set Designed for Experimental Purposes. The picture was taken at his graduation with his BA in 1913. He studied under S. L. Brown, M. Y. Colby and Eugene Schoch (Engineering). He taught physics at Oklahoma A & M, Stillwater, Oklahoma. He worked at the family photo & cutlery shop in El Paso Texas, but wished to return to teaching physics. He taught physics at Edinburgh College, later the University of Texas–Pan American (UTPA). He became university professor and chairman of the physics department at the University of Houston. He retired in 1951 to the family farm at Garfield, Texas. Professor Schuhmann died at age 96 and is buried at Haynie Chapel Cemetery, Garfield, Texas. More about Professor Schuhmann.

1916 Amanda Howell McDonald listed as Physics Librarian in UT Bulletin. More...

1916 Physics budget reported. More about the report.

1916 From University Bulletin: “Physics. The School of Physics occupies twelve rooms in the basement of the Main Building and three in a temporary frame building. Specially equipped laboratories are provided for the first- and second-year courses, and for electrical measurements, photometry, optics, mechanics, and high temperature measurements. The apparatus is of exceptional quality and unusual variety and is sufficiently duplicated to allow of the instruction of large classes. A centrally located storeroom is provided with a storekeeper constantly in charge. For the lectures to the larger classes, the school uses the lecture room in K Hall, which was designed for classes in the experimental sciences. In connection with the lecture room is the cabinet and preparation room, which contains a large collection of lecture apparatus. A moveable desk with attachable connections for gas, water, and electricity allows of setting up the experiments in the preparation room and transferring the apparatus ready for use to the lecture room during the few minutes between lectures. A workshop with an extensive equipment of standard and special tools is used for the construction and repair of apparatus.”

1917 MA thesis was written by Thomas Beatie McCarter, A Magnetic Survey of Pilot Knob. McCarter served as tutor. In 1918, he joined the physics and mathematics faculty of West Texas A&M University. He rose to head of department, teaching until 1951. In 2003, he was inducted as a WTAMU Professor Emeritus, an honor bestowed on a limited number of faculty.




Gov. Jim Ferguson appeared before the regents to discuss his request that six faculty members be fired. His charges involved political activity, peculation and fraud. The regents fired five professors, including Professor of Physics William T. Mather. They suggested it was due to Governor Jim Ferguson’s displeasure with the five, and his threat to veto the University budget if they remained. Students and alumni protested. The Texas House of Representatives investigated charges that Mather received a percentage of the price of the laboratory manual written by him and sold by the University Co-op. He was also accused of receiving travel expenses as Chair of the University Athletic Committee. He was cleared of any wrongdoing and eventually reinstated by a non-unanimous vote of the Regents (Regent Littlefield opposed). An additional charge against Mather was his chairmanship of the Anti-Vice League in Austin, making him, according to Major Littlefield, “the most dangerous man to the University in the Faculty.” The Anti-Vice League was formed to enforce the closing of the Austin prostitution district called “Guy Town” in 1913.

Physics Faculty and Students

Estimate on the date is about 1917. Lulu Bailey died in 1921. Thomas McCarter resigned his position October 10, 1917. M. Y. Colby graduated in 1915, but was put in charge of the Radio School when war broke out. After the Armistice, he left to work at a bank about 1918.

All identifications left to right. Far Back: Adolph August Gruber (1868–?), brother to Louis Gruber, laboratory assistant, maybe Louis Henry Gruber (1872–Nov 13,1960), mechanician,

Back Row: J. M. Kuehne (1872–1960), C. W. Clark, Assistant, S. Leroy Brown (1881–1966), maybe Louis Henry Gruber (187–-Nov 13,1960), mechanician, Thomas Beatie McCarter (1884–1970), tutor, Ewald W. Schuhman, tutor, W. T. Mather, professor (1864–1937)

Front Row: J. C. Higdon (assistant), Svante Mauritz Udden, may be L. F. Gilliland (1887–1972), Newton S. Herod, Mary Lulu Bailey, M. Y. Colby (1892–1962), Lizzie Gertrude Blasdel, Assistant, Unknown man in glasses Some further information on those in the picture:

Some further information on those in the picture:

Svante Mauritz Udden (1916 picture) (BS Engineer, Fellow in Physics) Picture used for identification in picture above.




Louis Henry Gruber, born March 8, 1872, in Macon, GA, was the machinist for the department for many years. He built much of the experimental equipment in the first half of the 20th century for the physics department. He was the Master of the Austin Masonic Lodge 1915–1916. He retired from UT and went into private employment until his health forced a second retirement. He died November 13, 1960. In the 1917 group photo above, he looks more like the man to the right of S. Leroy Brown. They worked very closely together.


Newton S. Herod became a professor at a Georgia college.



Lizzie Gertrude Blasdell (Richmond) 1916. Cactus photo and quote, “She’s not exactly the head of the physics department, but she’s comparatively young yet.”



Others possibility for woman in the picture: Zenobia Blanche Bennett (Hemphill, TX, picture from 1921 Cactus), a tutor in physics, 1922 Phi Beta Kappa.( However, I think the identification as Lizzie Blasdel is correct.—Mel Oakes)




Others in the department about this time were: Emil Zuhlke, Jr., Clarence Hodges, BA, Oscar William Silvey (PhD 1915, Chicago, lecturer and later professor of physics at Texas A&M); F. A. Osborn; Helena Bowers Von Koenneritz (MA 1920); Marvin Curtis Nichols (1896–1969) BS in chemistry 1918 (was an engineer and authority on Texas water resources. An honorary doctor of humanities degree was conferred on him posthumously by Texas Wesleyan College in June 1969. The Texas Legislature approved a resolution to name a proposed dam and reservoir on the Sulphur River the Marvin C. Nichols Dam and Reservoir), Charles Normand.


1917 University published General Register Of The Students And Former Students of the University of Texas 1917, compiled for the Ex-Student's Association by W. J. Maxwell under direction of John A. Lomax, secretary.
Physics students included can be seen here.

1918 Air Service Radio School was established to support the ROTC program. The main part of the school was located at Penn Field, a camp near what is today St. Edwards University. S. Leroy Brown was selected president. M. Y. Colby returned to Austin to be supervisor at the school. More... As a part of his experiments in high-frequency radio, University of Texas physics professor, S. Leroy Brown, built radio equipment and began broadcasting weather and crop reports from a physics laboratory on the UT campus in 1915. During World War I, using the call letters KUT, the University's Division of Extension operated Brown's equipment to broadcast reports from the United States Marketing Bureau and Department of Agriculture.

1918 O. W. Silvey collaborated with Ervin Sidney Ferry of Indiana University on book entitled, A Handbook of Physical Measurements Vol. 2). Marvin Curtis Nichols was “Quizmaster and Assistant” in Physics.

1919 Newton S. Herod appointed tutor in physics ($1000). Other Assistant appointments: Oscar Buford Archer (became Dean of Lamar State College, BS EE 1929), Zenobia Blanche Bennett, Lloyd David Bullen, Lucille Kenneth Crouch (BA 1921, Yoakum, Pictured at right), Phil Moss Ferguson (1899–1986, became a professor of civil engineering at UT; the Ferguson Structural Engineering Laboratory is named for him). Grady Carlyle Fuller (CE graduate), Thelma Wright Lawrence, Edgar McMullen, Charles Herbert Marshall, Charles Ernest Normand, Robert Abner Partain, Jack Degge Preston (EE), Louisa Stuart Roe, stenographer. Classes were suspended for several intervals due to the influenza epidemic.


1919- From the Cactus yearbook "William Tyler Mather—His red-headedness permeates his physics to the extent of monopolizing the foreground. Of the few faculty men who apply their trade to their play, since the lab method of procedure with the physics of billiard balls is his hobby. Handy with both fists and reputed to be a cusser of the old school."

1920 Frederick A. Osborn (1896 alumnus of Michigan) added as lecturer. In 1901, he was a professor of physics at Olivet College. In 1905, he was a professor at the U. of Washington. The photo at right is from the University of Washington 1906 yearbook, Tyee, . He was listed in the Texas Regents Minutes (it must have been a temporary appointment if this is same person). Lulu Bailey was now an adjunct professor ($2600).






Charles P. Boner from Bellvue, TX, earned a BA. He was a member of: Kane Klu Pentagram, Varsity Band, 1918–19. He won the Sons of Hermann Prize for best performance in freshman German, 1917, assistant in physics, 1919–20 Phi Beta Kappa, Valedictorian of the Senior Class and graduated in three years. He was famous for high scholarship. Dr. Mather believed that “Paul has the brains of the whole physics department.” (picture-1918, courtesy Richard Boner)




Helena Bowers Von Koenneritz earned an MA, Relational Between the Maximum Diffraction Angle and the Radius of Curvature of the Diffracting Edge. She was teaching in the Austin school system at a salary of $1170/yr. She taught mathematics there for two years. She had completed five years of college work.

Charles Ernest Normand earned an master's. His thesis was entitled, Characteristics of Vacuum Tubes.




“Because of continued illness, Lulu M. Bailey, adjunct professor of physics, is unable to fill her place during the current session. I recommend, therefore, that she be granted leave of absence for the year 1920–21, with such salary as the President in conjunction with the executive Committee of the board may determine.”–Board of Regents Minutes, Oct 26, 1920. (She received half pay.-Mel Oakes)

1920 Preston Hampton Edwards joined the department as an associate professor. He taught an acoustics course in the Music Education program. Preston Hampton Edwards was born June 25, 1877, at Darlington, SC. His son, Griffith Edwards, wrote to a nephew, Howard Berryman Edwards, Jr., 9/10/98: "There is an indirect connection with your grandfather, Preston Hampton Edwards. He was named for the younger son of Wade Hampton III. Your great-grandfather, Berryman Wheeler Edwards, was a tutor in the household of Wade Hampton in Columbia while he (BWE) was finishing at South Carolina College (later University), and he (BWE) spent a year or so tutoring sons Wade Hampton and Preston. During the war, they were all in the cavalry in Lee's army and Wade III took command of all the cavalry after Jeb Stuart was killed—sometime in 1864. Sons Preston and Wade IV were aides on Wade III's staff. Son Preston was killed in early 1865 at Hatcher's Run, south of Petersburg, and Wade IV severely wounded while trying to tend to him. So my father, Preston Hampton Edwards, was named by his father for Preston Hampton— the Preston being his mother's maiden name. My father told me one time that he did meet Wade Hampton III once in Charlottesville." More about Preston Edwards.


In the 1920 catalog, there is a Louisa Stuart Roe (Austin) listed as a stenographer in the Physics Department (picture from the 1921 Cactus). The physics librarian was Amanda Howell McDonald.



1921 ”Instructor Lulu M. Bailey died in February, 1921.” (Entry from Johns Hopkins Alumni Magazine, Vol. 10, Nov., 1921.)
The UT Board of Regents expressed, in their minutes, high appreciation for Lulu Bailey’s service and regret her death. More about Professor Bailey.

Summer appointments included Charles Paul Boner, BA, tutor; Blanche Z. Bennett, BA and Clarence Hodges, BA, assistants; Oscar William Silvey, PhD, Lecturer (later professor of physics Texas A&M); Charles Ernest Normand (1897–), MA, tutor. Normand eventually earned his PhD at U. of California, 1930.

1921 As an adjunct to the Physics Department, the radio station 5XY was put into operation on October 1, 1921, (the license had been issued March 22). It was located in K Hall and had a corps of seven operators who served without pay. Agricultural and sporting information were broadcast. In 1922, a new license was issued replacing 5XY, bearing new call letters WCM, which the station used to identify itself until 1925. In these first years, the station was used for a number of purposes: beginning as a demonstration project in the Physics Department, whose Professor of Physics Simpson L. Brown had persuaded the administration to let him build the station in the first place. Beginning in 1923, though, funding concerns prompted a transfer of operational control to the University's Extension Division for extension teaching. One of the stipulations of the transfer agreement was that funds would be provided for operations and maintenance to put the station in a "first-class" condition. The funds, however, did not materialize and broadcasting suffered until a state agriculture official needed a means to broadcast daily crop and weather reports.

A deal between the official and UT's Extension Division allowed agriculture broadcasts for one hour per day in exchange for equipment maintenance. At other times of the day, the University would broadcast items of interest from the campus, including a number of faculty lecture series.

But, by the end of 1924, the Physics Department decided it wanted the station back, and with the approval of the Board of Regents, the Physics Department regained control in the summer of 1925. (See 1925 picture below.) They had a new license granted on October 30th and it bore, for the first time, the call letters KUT. Jack Edrington recalled that his father, Thomas Sydney Edrington, a physics student, remembered being one of the first announcers.

KUT history 1925-1927
Professor Simpson L. Brown—in addition to his teaching and research work in the Physics Department—served simultaneously as general manager, technical director, and producer. Programs were aired three nights a week from 8 PM to 10 PM with no sponsors or commercials. There were concerts by the University Symphony and other Austin musical organizations as well as discussions, lectures, and speeches by faculty, state officials, and agriculture experts. Weekly services were broadcast from St. David's Episcopal Church, and during football season, fans could listen to play-by-play descriptions of the Longhorn games.

KUT's early years were ambitious, but by 1927, ambition had outrun the funding. The expense of operating and maintaining the station had simply become too great for the Physics Department to sustain. University President Harry Benedict appointed a committee to study the matter, and the committee recommended that the project be discontinued. The station was dismantled and the equipment returned to the physics labs for experimentation. KUT would not re-emerge for 30 years. (Some information from Wikipedia).

1921 There was an Arthur Pearson listed as Instructor in physics, BA, 1907, University of Denver.

1921 The regents surprise the campus with a proposal to move the main campus to the Brackenridge Tract.

1922 Charles P. Boner and Newton S. Herod (1889–1971) earned MA degrees. Herod had an AB in mathematics from San Jose in 1920. His MA thesis at Texas was entitled The Specific Heat of Air at Constant Pressure by the Continuous Electrical Method. In 1927, he earned PhD at the U. of California at Berkeley. He taught at the Georgia School of Technology (later renamed Georgia Tech) and became Professor and Dean at Georgia College. He is standing in photo at right.

Boner’s thesis was titled, Distributed Capacity.




1922-1923 Arnold Romberg joined the faculty, coming from the U. of Hawaii. Professor Romberg was born on July 7, 1882, in Muldoon, Texas. He earned a bachelor's degree in 1910 from the University of Texas at Austin where he was a tutor in mathematics. He completed master's and PhD degrees from Harvard University in 1913 and 1915, respectively. In 1914, Harvard listed him as a Whiting Fellow and Bayard Cutting Fellow. He was also designated the John Tyndall Scholar. His thesis was titled The Ratio of the Calorie at 73 Degrees to That at 20 Degrees. The work was supervised by Professor H. G. Davis and financial support came from the Rumford Fund. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. P. W. Bridgeman “presented” the paper.

Dr. Romberg taught at the University of Hawaii where he set up an early seismologic station in 1921. The equipment used was “Romberg horizontal pendulum, mass ca 31.75 kg., two comp. N and E, phot. registr., with viscous coupling to eliminate effects of slow tilting.” He joined the faculty at UT Austin in 1923, where he taught until 1940, when he left to establish the LaCoste & Romberg meter manufacturing firm. With Dr. Lucien LaCoste, Professor Romberg developed a gravity meter which measures differences in gravitational attraction. Members of the 1972 Apollo 17 team left a LaCoste & Romberg meter on the moon to measure the effects of the sun's gravity on the moon. A similar meter was used at the South Pole to measure the moon's gravitational effects on earth tides. In addition, the meter became an important tool in oil discovery. The Palais de Découverte in Paris, France, included the work of Professor Romberg and Dr. LaCoste in recognition of their groundbreaking work. Professor Romberg was a member of the Seismological Society of America, the American Physical Society, and the Hawaiian Volcano Research Association. He died on June 1, 1974, at the age of 91. More...




1923 Edgar McMullen (uknown) earned a BA in 1915 and earned a MA in 1923 with a thesis entitled, A Study of Several Methods of Measuring Electrical Resistance With Reference to Their Accuracy and Simplicity. (BA 1915, from Florence, TX). He was a member of the University Masonic Study Club in 1920. He was also listed as a UT student in the 1914 Austin City Directory. In 1924, he is listed as a tutor at UT. Edgar is from Florence, TX. He taught at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. His obituary at right is from the October 11, 1937, The Paris News. The photo below is from the Paris Junior College 1926 yeabook, The Galleon. It was kindly provided by Don R. Brownlee.

1924 Emma Agnes Townsend (b. Albany, NY, 1902-1982) earned a BA, 1923, MA 1924. Her thesis, supervised by Mather and Romberg, was entitled, A Study of Residual Inductances of Resistance Coils. She studied at the University of Chicago during 1925 and continued her studies at Columbia where she earned a PhD in physics in 1930. In 1935, she published in the The Physical Review, The Change in Thermal Energy Which Accompanies a Change in Magnetization of Nickel. Phys. Rev. 47, 306–310 (1935). In 1939, she published Some Quantitative Experiments in Elementary Photography, The American Physics Teacher —August 1939 —Volume 7, Issue 4, pp. 250–254. From 1927 to 1944, she was assistant and lecturer at Barnard College. In 1944, she was promoted to assistant professor. She later taught evening classes at Hunter College and was on the faculty at New Jersey College (which later became Rutgers) as lecturer from 1948–1953 and associate professor to professor,1953–58. She was reported to have been a consultant in photography, perhaps as a result of classes with Professor Kuehne while in Austin. Her research interest was photography and ferromagnetism. In 1926, she married fellow UT physics major, Charles Frederick Wiebusch (b. Riesel, TX,1903–1999). Wiebusch earned a master’s at UT in 1925 studying cathode rays. At the UT Engineering School, Agnes T. and Charles F. Wiebusch Endowed Fellowships were established in 1973 and 2000. In 1930, she was a college teacher, and he was a research telephone engineer living Manhattan, NY. In 1945, Charles represented pruning shears and hair clippers manufacturers before the Finance Committee of the U.S. Senate considering tariffs on German products. He lived at 110 Lafayette Street, New York City. This may be the same C. F. Wiebusch that led the Jezebel low frequency acoustics project at Bell Laboratories.





1924 There were approximately 500 students in the Graduate School, making it second to Johns Hopkins in the South. Few students were enrolled in PhD programs.

1924 Samuel Newton Gaines earned an MA with a thesis entitled, Installation and Test of a Radio Telephone Transmitting Station. He later became Chair at Texas Christian University. Enos Godfrey Gary earned an MA with a thesis entitled, Methods of Measuring the Frequencies of Alternating Currents. Gary expressed appreciation to faculty member John L. Thomas "for his aid and advice in the practical solution of some of the problems encountered." Thomas knew much about radio and electronic circuitry and was a graduate student.

1924 Albert Clarence Hodges earned an MA with a thesis entitled A Determination of the Constant of Gravitation and the Mean Density of the Earth. Austin American reported a University of Texas physics professor claimed to have determined the "weight of the world," calculating it to be 6,650,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grams. In 1928, Hodges earned a PhD at Cal. Tech. His thesis was titled, Effect of Change in Pressure and Current Density on the Spectrum of Helium.

1925 Physics Laboratory—note sonometers in the photo below (they were still in use in 2006).

1925 Malcolm Colby earned an MA with a thesis entitled, A Vacuum-tube Multimeter for Radio-Frequency Measurements. Thomas Morgan Hammond earned an MA with a thesis entitled, A Direct Reading Ratio Set for the Comparison of Nominally Equal Resistances. Isaac Christopher Sanders earned a MA with a thesis entitled, The Velocity of Sound in Rock Salt.

1925 Physics Electricity Laboratory, shown below, probably in late1920s. Professor Arthur Romberg, shown teaching the lab, did not come to UT until 1923. The diversity of students is puzzling. Several are in military uniform, the sailor is a petty officer. Some look Filipino, however, their service in the military, at the time, was restricted to stewards. Hispanics were in small numbers, mostly from Mexico. Note the dry cells being used. (Photo supplied by Lucia McKay, Romberg’s granddaughter.)


Lynn Gorman Howell earned an MA with a thesis entitled An Electrical Harmonic Analyzer.






1926-Sister Michael Edward O'Byrne (1893–1976) earned an MA with a thesis entitled, An Experimental Test of the Reciprocity Law in Photography Over a Wide Range of Continuous and Intermittent Exposures. Sister O'Byrne later earned a PhD at The Catholic University of America in 1932. Her dissertation title was, Combination Frequencies and Infra-red Absorption Spectra of Certain Alkaloids. The work was published in the J. Opt. Soc. Am. 23, 93-94, (1933). She was head of the science department at Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, TX, and was responsible for raising the funds for a new science building. More about Sister Michael O'Byrne.

1926-Eugene Feenberg entered the University of Texas. Born in 1906 in Fort Smith, AK to Polish immigrant parents. His father was in the salvage business. Feenberg attended public high school, where he excelled in mathematics and science, occupying himself with electrical gadgets, motors, and radios in his spare time. College was simply not part of his world so, after high school, he worked for three years in a number of odd jobs. This experience convinced him that he was not cut out for making a living in ordinary business jobs; he decided to pursue his true interest in science. Since his family lived in Dallas, he entered UT in 1926 (where tuition was $25/ semester), studying physics and math and making up for lost time by finishing first in his class with both BS (physics) and MA (mathematics) degrees in three years. He had a quantum mechanics course from mathematics professor, Hiram Ettlinger. It concentrated on the mathematics of the Schödinger equation. Kuehne taught some modern physics. No one was doing theoretical physics at Texas then. Two other students were younger, but impressed him, Noyes Smith and Charles Fay, both attended Harvard and later worked for oil companies. Feenberg’s brilliance attracted the attention of his professors at UT, including C. P. Boner and Arnold Romberg. With Boner’s support, he applied to Harvard, where he undertook doctoral studies during 1929–33. He worked with Edwin C. Kemble on the quantum theory of scattering and took courses from Slater, Bridgman, and fellow Texas graduate George Washington Pierce. With Gregory Breit, he published a landmark paper on isospin. He wrote several well received books, Shell Theory of the Nucleus and The Theory of Quantum Fluids. Feenberg held the Wayman Crow Professorship in Physics at Washington University, a chair formerly occupied by Arthur Compton and Ed Condon, and later by Edwin Jaynes (Maxent and Bayesian probability theory). He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1975 and died in 1977. (Information excerpted from The Legacy of Eugene Feenberg at the Centenary of his Birth by John W. Clark, Wayman Crow Professor, Washington U. appearing in Recent Progress in Many-Body Theories, 2008 and also an archived AIP interview.)

1927 Ludwig Wilhelm Blau was appointed physics instructor at a salary of $1400/yr. He later became Director of Geophysical Research for Humble Oil and Refining Co.

1927 From 1927 UT Bulletin: “Only high rank graduates will be appointed as tutors. Only high rank undergraduates or graduates will be appointed as assistants. 12 hrs/week is the ordinary max duty for tutor or assistant. Tutors will be allowed regularly to teach freshman classes and laboratories in case of need and to assist in upper class labs. Assistants can not teach classes, give quizzes or grade exams, unless an instructor is present to help. They can grade exercises, do office work and assist in freshman labs.”

1928 Arthur Lockenvitz joined the faculty as an instructor at a salary of $1800/9 months. He remembered professor’s salaries in the $4000 range. In 1932, all salaries were cut by 25%. The physics department was in the basement of the old Main Building; it was later moved to Physics and Astronomy Building (later Painter Hall) in 1933. There was a large lecture hall used by chemistry and physics together, known as K Hall (an old WWI barracks). Lockenvitz reported it was a good lecture hall, but it was "cold as hell" in the winter time. K Hall stood at the site of the lily pond, south of the Biology Bldg. There were no modern physics texts since students studied original papers. In the new building, a modern physics lab (325) was now possible. Experiments included Michelson interferometry, e/m, oil drop and electron diffraction in thin films. Class sizes for majors were about 12 per year. One of the department’s research projects, according to Lockenvitz, was ultrasonic sterilization of milk by Professor Gaines. All physics majors had TAs, even sophomores. This was critical for their survival during the Depression.

Professor Lockenvitz was born on January 7, 1902, in Bloomington, Illinois. He earned a bachelor's degree from Illinois Wesleyan in 1925 and a master's degree from Indiana University in 1926. His thesis subject was the study of the time delay for electron emission in the photoelectric effect. His photocells were potassium hydride. He next worked at Western Electric in Chicago for one year. There, he split mica by piezo-electric effect for use in condenser microphones. Previously, this was done by hand by young women. He also developed a method for determining the quality of diamonds used in dies for extruding wire. He next went to Göttingen for a semester where he attended lectures by Pohl, Franck, Born and Oldenburg. Hilbert was too ill with pernicious anemia to come to campus so students went to his house. and he lectured from bed! Eating raw liver was later discovered as a successful solution for the illness. Lockenvitz also spent a semester studying in Hamburg. It was in Germany that he met Margaret. She later came to America, and they were married in 1930. Lockenvitz’s research in the 1930s focused on better vacuum pumps. He made eight-stage oil diffusion pumps creating 10-7 without traps.

During World War II, he was part of the UT Austin War Research Laboratory. He also directed the University's Military Physics Research Laboratory from 1945 to 1954. Professor Lockenvitz's research interests included working on photon models and the interaction of photons with other photons as well as with electric and magnetic fields. Known as a prolific researcher, Professor Lockenvitz's latest work involved attempting to measure a process in laser beams. He retired in 1972, though he continued his research until his death. More...

1929 Department of Physics awards first PhD:
Eugene Adam Paulin (1882–1963), Some Polarization Phenomena of Very Short Radio Waves. Supervisor S. Leroy Brown. This was a survey of the intensity and state of polarization of the radiation field in the vicinity of a short-wave oscillation generator. This was a new type of detector patterned after the design of S. L. Brown which was found to furnish an excellent means for conducting this survey. The intensity and state of polarization of the radiation field at distances up to 100 meters from the oscillator were examined. The wave-length range was from 5 to 7.5 meters. It was found that the loop of the oscillator and the linear radiator coupled to it imprinted their character on the polarization of the waves. The wave is the result of components which have their source in the individual current-carrying elements in the radiating system. It was also found that the state of polarization of the waves, at least within the range of distances covered by this survey, showed no tendency to change as the waves proceeded out from the generator. This is at variance with the statement of Pickard who found the reception was predominantly horizontal. Interference effects were observed which indicated the importance of secondary radiations which may come from conductors in the immediate vicinity of the sending and receiving sets. They were found to affect materially the intensity and the state of polarization of the total radiation received. It was found that, by simple means, a beam of short waves could be sent in any direction. By the addition of tuned rods, the beam could be made increasingly concentrated. More...

1929 Department of Physics awarded second and third PhDs:
Ludwig Wilhelm Blau, Torsion Balances of Short Period. Supervisor Arnold Romberg. More about Ludwig Blau..

Charles Paul Boner, The Measurement of Capacitance and Inductance in Terms of Frequency and Resistance at Radio Frequencies. More about Charles Boner.

1929 M. Y. Colby completed his PhD at the University of Chicago and returned to the UT faculty. While there he obtained the historically important photo shown below. More about Malcolm Colby.

University of Chicago, Colby has picture dated Summer 1927, more likely 1929, year of Heisenberg's US tour.
Front: L to R: Werner Heisenberg, P.A.M. Dirac, H. G. Gale, F. Hund
Back: Arthur H. Compton, George S. Monk, Carl Eckhardt, Robert S. Mulliken, Frank C. Hoyt.
Behind door: Facundo Bueso-Sanllehí, Puerto Rican physicist

1929 Hattie Francis Savage earned an MA with a thesis entitled, Diffraction of Sound by a Grating of Variable iInterval. The thesis was supervised by Professor Arnold Romberg. She earned her BA in 1923 and was listed as a resident of San Antonio. She was a Phi Beta Kappa in 1926. In 1920, she was teaching science in Ballinger, TX. Her salary was $1125/yr and she had two years of college training at UT. In 1922, she was teaching school in Yoakum, TX. She was possibly born in Taylor, TX in 1898. In 1930, she perhaps was a teacher in El Paso.

1929 The floor of Y Hall was about three feet off the ground, and they stored stuff under there, and among the items was a bunch of old discarded toilets. In the summer of 1929. Chairman S. L. Brown was on a trip up north and they started to tear down Y Hall (another barracks used by physics). Boner took charge of moving all of the stuff out of the building. When it was completed, he sent a telegram to Brown saying, "Moved everything out of Y Hall, including the assets." Brown could not remember any "assets" in there and it took him a long time to figure out what Boner meant. (Story by A. E. Lockenvitz.)

1930 Austin’s Majestic Theater (renamed Paramount Theater) underwent a renovation including a new sound system. Management contacted Professor Boner and asked if he would be interested in the large Estey pipe organ and, if so, could he remove it immediately. He enlisted some students, and they moved it to the campus. Apparently, the State Theater did likewise. From these, a single organ was assemble by Boner and students he hired under a government program, College Youth Administration, CYA.

The following is from Professor Wilson Nolle’s recollections, “C. P. Boner brought about the installation of a pipe organ which was played from the main lecture hall, Room 201 in the new physics building. The 4-manual console on wheels was stored, when not in use, in the passageway that served the glass-fronted apparatus bays to the north of Room 201, and could be moved into 201 through the double doors at the east end of the blackboard. Two blowers for the organ were located in the farthest west apparatus bay.

"The organ wind chests, with their pipes, were located in a former classroom at the west end of the 300 floor of the building. Sound openings into the upper level of Room 201 were cut into the partition wall on the south side of the former classroom.

"The organ combined a Wurlitzer theater organ of about 10 ranks with a Wicks theater organ of about the same size, plus several ranks of pipe obtained from a vendor of reclaimed organ parts. It is my recollection that the Wurlitzer instrument was said to be like the one in the Paramount Theater on Congress Avenue, probably the same one.

"I understand that the organ was functioning in the Physics Building by 1936, and that Prof. Boner played a weekly program on a local radio station. (You can hear one of the programs, Organ Reveries, from 1935 by visiting Professor Boner's page.)

"By the fall of 1938, when I enrolled in UT as a graduate student in physics, Boner was fully engaged in research with several graduate students and in design projects (including eventually the new Music Building) and had lost interest in the physics organ. I enjoyed playing on it occasionally. Robert B. Newman, a graduate student, had been present during at least some of the installation work. He was the person to consult when a trouble-shooting need arose, and was my main source of information about the organ. In the late 1940s, he entered graduate study at MIT in architecture. After he completed work at MIT, his combined knowledge of acoustics and architectural design made him a highly admired consultant until his early death.

"In the 1930s, an annual technological open-house event in May evolved from the College of Engineering (hence its name “Power Show”). On these occasions, the physics organ was played well-nigh continuously, particularly by W. Hope Tilley and Paul Kennard, former theater organists in Austin who likely used to play on these same pipes. Tilley had evolved into the operator of an accordion studio, and Kennard was organist of the First Baptist Church.

"Further note: The electro-pneumatic structure of organs like this one gives rise to many service calls, and after a couple of decades the need for a complete overhaul. When Boner returned to UT after WWI, his interests were fully engaged in starting here a spin-off of the Harvard Underwater Sound Laboratory.

He apparently suggested rather soon that the instrument be removed and the space restored to classroom or offices. The disassembled organ was stored at the University Junior High Building and eventually sold as surplus equipment. The purchaser, Edwin Lansford, never had it assembled.”

1930 Thomas Sydney Edrington earns a MA with a thesis entitled, Problems in the Calibration of a Condenser Microphone for the Measurement of Sound Intensity. He remained and completes all the work for a PhD except the dissertation. His son, Jack Edrington stated, "He got a summer job with Shell Oil and at the end of the summer they said, 'well as far as we are concerned, you are a doctor, so why not come to work for us.’ Since these were the depression years, the offer was one he could not refuse." He spent his career with Shell in Midland, Texas working as a geophysicist and geologist.




1930 Arthur Lockenvitz (left) and Malcolm Colby in the basement of Main Building. Only known picture of a physics research lab there. (Picture courtesy of Molly Colby Williams, great-granddaughter of Malcolm Colby.)

1931 Department of Physics awarded PhD to Samuel Newton Gaines of Ft. Worth for thesis entitled A Magnetostriction Oscillator Producing Intense Audible Sound and Some Effects Obtained. His committee consisted of S. L. Brown, chair, Arnold Romberg, J. N. Bailey, H. Ettlinger, J. M. Kuehne and E. P. Schoch. C. P. Boner was thanked for important contributions.

1931 Archie Waugh Straiton (1907–2000), earned an MA, Measurement of the Propagation Characteristic of Electric Wave Filters. In 1939, he earned a PhD in physics. Straiton later joined the electrical engineering department and became chairman.

1931 Charles Hemphill Fay (1910–1987) awarded MA for thesis, Some Properties of Composite Rochelle Salt Crystals. Charles Hemphill Fay, physicist, was born on January 29, 1910, in Austin, Texas, to Edwin Whitfield Fay and Lucy Belle (Hemphill) Fay. He attended the Whitis School, a private school in Austin, until he completed the sixth grade, at which time the Whitis school closed. He then attended and graduated from John T. Allen Junior High School and Austin High School. He majored in physics at the University of Texas at Austin and was a Junior-5, one of only five juniors elected to Phi Beta Kappa in his junior year. He graduated in 1930 with highest honors and in 1931, earned his master's degree, also at the University of Texas. On May 17, 1931, in Austin, Fay married Dorothy Louise Wild, who had received the masters degree that year in clothing from the home economics department of the University of Texas; they had two children. Fay was a Whiting Fellow at Harvard University (1932–1934) and a Thayer Scholar (1934–1935); in 1936, he received his PhD in theoretical physics from Harvard. His thesis was entitled, I. The Scattering of Fast Neutrons by Heavy Nuclei. II. A Refinement of the Heisenberg Theory of Ferromagnetism. He remained at Harvard as an assistant from 1936 to 1937, then moved to the University of Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was an instructor (1937–1938) and an assistant professor and the head of the physics department (1938–1941). He was elected to the Society of Sigma Xi in 1938. Fay joined the Geophysical Laboratory of Shell Oil Company in Houston in 1941 and remained with Shell until his retirement from the Exploration and Production Research Laboratory in February 1969. At that time, his title was Consultant, Physics. His specialty was the design of seismometers, seismic amplifiers, and well instruments. He is named on twenty-one United States patents and is the sole inventor on eleven of these. He was a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Geophysical Union, the American Physical Society, the Society of Exploration Geophysicists, and the Society of Petroleum Engineers. He was also a member of the Texas Academy of Sciences, the Houston Philosophical Society, and the St. Bartholomew Chapter of the Huguenot Society of Texas. After the death of his first wife, Fay married Mary Smith on September 4, 1969, at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Houston. Fay died on December 16, 1987, and was buried at the Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.

1931 Tatum, Gordon Russell, earned an MA, The Reverberation Time Bridge. He later earned a PhD at Harvard in 1937, title of his thesis being, The Effect of High-Intensity Sound on Smokes and Other Aerosols. He was born Nov. 30, 1904, in Fincastle, TX, to Marvin and Linnia Tatum. His father was a postman. He married Elizabeth Harrison in 1931; AB, Baylor, 1928, MA, Texas, 1931, Gen. Ed. Bd. Fellow Harvard, 1934–1937, PhD (Acoustics), 1937. Principal, high school, Texas 1925–1926; teacher, 1926–1927; Instructor physics, Baylor, 1928–1931; Asst. prof, 1931–1937; Assoc. Prof, 1937–1939; Prof, 1939–1946. In 1938, he published a paper, Library Noise in the Library Quarterly. Visiting Lecturer and Associate Director, Officers Electronics Training Center, Harvard 1941–1945, Associate Director Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins, 1945–1948; Director Silver Spring Laboratory, Kellex Corp. 1948–1951: Director Research & Development, Vitro Corp,, AM, 1951–1953, General Manager, Labs, 1954-1957. Pres. 1957–1970, V. Pres-Corp, 1963–1971, Board. Member, 1964–1971. Vice President of Automation Industries, Inc, 1969–1971. Member panel, Cmt. guided missiles. U.S. Gov’t Research & Development, Bd. 1949–1952, Chairman. 1950–1952, Torpedo Cmt, 1955–1960. Underwater Ord. Div. 1960–1964, member board directors, 1965 Fellow, AAAS. Ord. Association; Phys. Soc; Acoustical Society; Association of Physics Teachers. High intensity sound and magnetostriction. Selected for Baylor University Distinguished Alumni Award in 1971. He died in April 1983 in Chevy Chase. MD, 20015.

1932- Second Year Physics Lab, Main Building, Rm #157 (photo by Charles Raines)


1932 John Price Woods, earned a PhD, A Method of Calculating the Performance of Vacuum Tube Circuits Used for the Plate Detection of Radio Signals. The previous year, he earned a master’s in EE. The early pictures shown here are from the Cactus, 1924 and 1925. The following material comes from his obituary (with additions from his daughters, Joan, Lynne and Carol and Mel Oakes) which appeared in the Katy Times, January 28, 2005, and reads, “John Price Woods passed away on January 26, 2005 at the age of 101. Son of Washington Green Lee Woods and Josephine Price Woods, he was born on February 25, 1903, in San Antonio, Texas. He grew up in Del Rio, Texas and attended UT earning a bachelor’s degree. He received his master’s in 1931 in electrical engineering and PhD degree in electrical engineering and physics from the University of Texas at Austin. Following graduation in the midst of the Depression, he sent out 75 handwritten letters and resumés. He received one offer, Shell Oil. He worked with them from 1933–41. During the war, he worked at the MIT Radiation Lab from 1941–44. From 1944–66, he worked for Atlantic Richfield in Dallas. He became director of their geophysical research laboratory. He is credited with overseeing 350 patents in the geophysical field. After his retirement from Atlantic Richfield Co., he moved to Anchorage, Alaska, where he was a professor of mathematics and physics at Alaska Methodist University for eleven years. Honors include President of Society of Exploration Geophysicists; Metropolitan Phil. Soc. of Dallas; European Association of Exploration Geophysicists; American Association of Petroleum Geologists; Tau Beta Pi; Sigma Xi; Eta Kappa Nu. He was a lifelong Methodist, active at Highland Park UMC in Dallas and St. Peter's UMC in Katy, where he had lived for the last 16 years.

He was a devoted husband for 72 years to Claribel Bruce Woods. He was adored and revered by his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren for his strong, positive support and the legacy of love he left each and every one.

He is survived by his children, David Bruce Woods and his wife Becky Woods of Richardson, Dr. Joan Bruce Woods and her husband Dr. Sam Pieper, Jr. of Murfreesboro, TN, Lynne Woods of Houston, and Rev. Carol Woods and her husband Clint Morrow of Bluff Dale, Texas; his grandchildren, Timothy Price Woods, Anne E. Hunter Turner and husband Greg Turner, Douglas Woods Ireton and wife Kimberlee Conway Ireton, Karen Lee Pieper and her husband Donald Clayton Ramsey, Jr., John Samuel Pieper and his wife Dawna Ellen Rooks, David Bernard Pieper and his wife Eva Camille Madison; Michelle Lee Woods, Claire Wyn Wladis, Carrie Woods Wladis, Kaci Morrow Guy and her husband Phil Guy, Kristi Morrow, and Cory Morrow; his great-grandchildren, Kelly L. Turner, Katie Turner, Grant Turner, Jack Ireton, Samantha Leanne Ramsey, Ian Donald Ramsey, Clayton William Ramsey, Andrew John Pieper, David Gray Pieper, Ashley Guy, and Meggan Guy. He is also survived by his son-in-law, John Ireton; and cousin, Adrian Gordon Gooch. He was preceded in death by his wife, Claribel Bruce Woods in 1996; by a daughter, Dr. Betty Jo Woods; and by an infant Elizabeth Lee Woods.

A memorial service will be held at the St. Peter's United Methodist Church, in Katy, with Rev. Gail Ford Smith officiating.


1932 James Louis Thomas earned a PhD. His dissertation was entitled, Pure Metal Resistance Standards. The importance of this work is indicated by this quote in a 2001 NIST paper, “In the 1920s, Dr. James L. Thomas had taken up the task of improving the long-term stability of wire-wound resistors, which were used to measure the current in absolute determinations. When a resistor is made by winding wire on a spool, parts of the crystalline structure of the wire are stressed past their elastic limit. Thomas developed wire-wound standard resistors that were annealed at high temperature, which released some of the internal strains and reduced the rate of change of resistance with time. Heat-treated manganin wire resistors developed by Thomas incorporated hermetically-sealed, double-walled enclosures, with the resistance element in thermal contact with the inner wall of the container to improve heat dissipation. These 1 [ohm] Thomas-type standards proved to be quite stable with time, and quickly came into favor as the primary reference for maintaining the resistance unit at National Bureau of Standards and at many other national measurement institues.

In the 1930 census, James L. Thomas was living in Bethesda, Maryland. He was born in 1894 in West Virginia, probably Kenova. He was a physicist with the U. S. Government and a veteran. He and his wife Louise Meger, married sometime between 1919–1921, had a daughter Frances A. (b. 1921) and son James L. Thomas Jr. (b. 1925–1994). Louise's mother Anna W. Meger (b. 1859) lived with them. All were born in Texas except James, Sr. In 1930, they were living at 134 Fairmont Avenue in Bethesda. James' parents were born in Virginia and Louise's in Tennessee. At left is 1916 undefeated UT Tennis team. James L. Thomas is 2nd from left of those seated. He has a racquet between his knees. In his June 5, 1917, World War I Draft Registration card, he was in Austin, Texas, listed as a student. In May 1917, the School of Military Aeronautics was opened in Austin. Lt. J. L. Thomas is a member of the staff. The picture of him is from Kelly Field in the Great World War by Harry David Kroll. Captain Theophilus S. Painter (later UT President) is also an instructor. He probably became connected with the Penn Field Radio School run for the military by UT and supervised by Professor S. Leroy Brown. It is there he likely gained his extensive knowledge of radio.


Academic Board, School of Military Aeronautics, ca. 1917
L to R: back row: Unknown, Capt. Theophilus S. Painter, Unknown, Lt. John Louis Thomas, Unknown
Front Row: Unknown, Dr. J. N. Bryant, Lt. Col. B. K. Yount, Capt. Roger Anory, Capt. J. W. Ramsay

John L. Thomas was born September 5, 1894, in Kenova, West Virginia. In 1920, Louise's mother (Mrs. J. T. Meger) was widowed and living in Austin. Following his military service he wrote, in 1923, a 207 page book, Fundamentals of Radio that was published by D. Van Nostrand Company. It also formed the basis for his master’s thesis that year. During 1923-24, he was an instructor in physics at UT earning $1800/yr. In 1942, he was working for National Bureau of Standards in Washington, DC. In 1946, he returned by ship from Gothenburg, Sweden. He was living in Garnett Park, New York. A Social Security record (SSN 578-58-8398) shows that he died in September of 1972 , in Rockville, Montgomery County, MD. More about James L Thomas.





















1932 Professors S. Leroy Brown and Arthur E. Lockenvitz recover lost radium.

1933 Lucien Jean Baptiste LaCoste earned a PhD. HIs dissertation was entitled, The Crystal Structure of the Aragonite Group.

1933 Dudley Williams entered as a new graduate student. His autobiography offered a unique perspective on the department. He wrote in his autobiography about events following his graduation, “The year 1933 was definitely not the year to graduate from college! There were no jobs for physicists or for practically anyone else. Furthermore, the graduate schools of the country were full of people with extensive experience who had lost industrial jobs in the Depression and had returned to universities for advanced training. My undergraduate requirements had been completed early in the year so I enrolled in the graduate school for my final term at North Carolina. However, not one of my applications for graduate teaching assistants was successful--so I decided to use some carefully hoarded savings to finance a year in graduate school at the University of Texas, where a new physics building had just been constructed and equipped in elegant fashion.

"From the outset, my academic career at Texas was a fiasco. All my correspondence had been with Professor Mather, who was listed in the catalogue as chairman of the Physics Department. He hinted that some kind of assistantship might be available later in the year. When I arrived in Austin, I reported to Mather for suggestions as to enrollment. He had all my letters of recommendation and a transcript of my record carefully collected in a folder. After registering me for a strange set of courses, Mather returned my folder to his own filing case and said: 'Now perhaps I should take you down and introduce you to our department chairman.' The department chairman was Arnold Romberg, who was pleasantly cordial, but had obviously never heard of me before. My credentials had never reached the department chairman or any other faculty members actually involved in granting assistantships! Needless to say, I was badly shaken. The only bright spot in my first day at Texas was meeting a beautiful brunette in a yellow dress who was in Romberg’s office when Mather took me there for an introduction. The girl’s name was Loraine Decherd, a graduate student in physics. (He later married her. More on Decherd.)

"Most of the physics courses for which Mather enrolled me, proved to duplicate courses I had taken earlier. The only exception was a course on vacuum-tube circuits under C. P. Boner. Two courses on 'differential equations' were included; these were very interesting. The one in the pure mathematics department actually dealt with topology, known locally as “point-set theory.” The other course in the department of applied mathematics, taught by H. V. Craig, was actually a course on number theory and was thoroughly delightful. Although the physics department at Texas was large one for the time, there was no general colloquium, and there seemed to be little interest in the exciting current developments in physics. Interest in research was restrained, to say the least, and seemed to lie in applications of physics to practical problems encountered in geophysical methods of prospecting for petroleum. After a few months, I decided that the University of Texas was not for me! (Some of my fellow graduate students at Texas went on to successful careers in geophysics with leading oil companies. After a few more years, Dr. Romberg retired from the university and eventually became very wealthy by leasing the gravity meters he had co-invented to oil companies."

1933–34 Walter Cronkite enrolled at UT. In a quote from his biography, A Reporter’s Life, he said, “Despite my commitment to journalism, there were a couple of temptations along the way. Mining engineering, for instance. That also was inspired by an American Boy short story. At the time, we, in Houston, were sitting on one of the greatest oil domes discovered up to then. The whole city was oil-crazy. It is typical of my lifelong sagacity that I should think, not of petroleum engineering, but mining engineering, for heaven’s sake. Whatever lingering inclination I had in that regard disappeared during first-year physics at the University of Texas when I couldn’t understand how a pulley works. I still don’t understand it. Why, simply because you run a rope across a block of wood, does it gain in lifting power? Doesn’t make sense at all. At any rate, I was smart enough to appreciate that if one could not understand how a pulley works, it might be best not to go down in a mine. My physics professor, a good, decent, kindly man named Dr. Boner, agreed with me and sealed his agreement by flunking me.” ( Cronkite was correct; there is no mechanical advantage in that particular arrangement. Just as well, he probably made a better journalist than an engineer.—Mel Oakes)

1933- Physics Faculty on steps of Old Main

Front row: L to R, J. M. Kuehne (1872–1960); professor, S. Leroy Brown (1881–1966), Chair; Arnold Romberg (1882–1974), adjunct professo;, W. T. Mather, professor, (1864–1937);
Back Row: Arthur E. Lockenvitz (1902–1989), instructor; John Jaimerson "JJ" Miller (1902–95), instructor, professor; M. Y. Colby, (1892–1962), professor; Charles Paul Boner (1900–1979), adjunct professor

1933- Construction of the Physics and Astronomy Building (later Painter Hall) began in January of 1932 and was ready for occupancy in May of 1933. It contained a miniature astronomical observatory. The lens for the 9" refractor telescope was ground by the John A. Brashear Company before the turn of the 20th century. In the 1930s, the telescope itself was designed and built by the Warner and Swasey Company of Cleveland.

According to Professor Lockenvitz, there was much to be moved, and it was during exams. The department had enormous freshman and sophomore physics classes. Professor Boner had at least one of those classes and he let it be known to the students, if they wished to pass his course, it would be advisable to help with moving. Most of the stuff was hand-carried by the students to the new building.

1934- Main Building razed in 1934. The modern-day tower and Main Building were constructed in its place.


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